Before an audience of members of the National Governors Association, President Barack Obama joked about “appointing judges” – a reference to Justice Antonin Scalia’s death and the need for his replacement – eliciting an outburst of laughter from the crowd. Here’s what he said to the group of governors:
“Like me, some of you may be in the final year of your last term, working as hard as you can to get as much done as possible for the folks you represent, fixing roads, educating our children, helping people retrain, appointing judges, the usual stuff.”
His joke comes barely ten days following Justice Scalia’s death, where the Justice was found dead in his bed at the Cibolo Creek Ranch in Texas.
The President was criticized for opting not to attend the Justice’s funeral, and instead play golf. He was further criticized for spending all of two minutes at the memorial service:
Friday, the Obamas spent approximately 35 seconds in front of the casket and then approximately 67 seconds in front of the portrait of Scalia.
In the wake of Scalia’s death, the President may nominate a replacement to send before the Senate Judiciary Committee and eventually the full U.S. Senate for approval. Republican leaders, however, are contending that an appointment not be made until the next president is elected. Ironically, it was then-Senator Joe Biden who made the same argument under then-President George H. W. Bush back in 1992:
“President Bush should consider following the practice of a majority of his predecessors and not – and not – name a nominee until after the November election is completed…”