BOSTON — Thursday's Massachusetts Senate session quickly broke for a recess after Democrats introduced a resolution urging the US Senate to "swiftly and diligently" grant a hearing and timely vote to the next nominee for the US Supreme Court.
Calling it "insulting" and "hypocritical" that the Republican-led Senate could refuse to act on a Supreme Court nominee put forth by the president, state Sen. Kenneth Donnelly on Thursday introduced the resolution and struck a forceful tone in advocating for its passage.
"I believe it is important to make sure that our citizens, the 160,000 people that I represent, believe in the political system," said Donnelly, an Arlington Democrat.
Republicans in the U.S. Senate have said they will not hold confirmation hearings on whomever President Barack Obama selects to fill a vacancy created by the recent death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
"I think that's a little bit disingenuous if they're not going to because the only thing I'm asking is for the United States Senate to do their constitutional responsibility," Donnelly said, adding that many of his constituents worked hard to elect Obama. "They deserve to have President Obama have eight full years, four years in his second term, so I'm going to be pushing that today."
Minority Leader Bruce Tarr of Gloucester moved for the resolution to be tabled, arguing that it would invite "the hounds of partisanship to enter this chamber" and detract focus from issues facing the state.
After Donnelly spoke for the resolution and Tarr against it, the Senate recessed for a Republican caucus. The Senate moved on to other business when it returned to session.
Sen. Donald Humason, a Westfield Republican, said, "I think we have better things to do in the Massachusetts Senate."
Donnelly has at least an ideological ally on the issue in Gov. Charlie Baker. Despite a reticence to insert himself in national politics, Baker told the News Service Wednesday that the president's nominee deserves to be allowed to go through the process.
"The constitution says that the president's supposed to nominate somebody, he should, and that the Senate should advise, which I think they should. But obviously it's up to the president to decide who he wants to put up and it's up to the Senate to then make a decision about what to do about it," Baker said.