Healey joins counterparts in urging US Senate to field Supreme Court nominee

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BOSTON >> Twenty attorneys general, including Attorney General Maura Healey, wrote to the leadership of the U.S. Senate on Thursday urging them to hold a hearing and a vote on President Barack Obama's eventual nominee to the Supreme Court.

The issue of whether Senate Republicans will simply ignore an Obama nominee to the top court to replace the late Antonin Scalia has enraged many Democrats, including U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren who took to the floor of the Senate on Thursday to deliver a fiery speech demanding that Republicans "do your job."

While some Republican leaders have suggested Scalia's seat should remain vacant until the next president takes office, the collection of top state lawyers said in their letter that since 1900 six justices have been confirmed during election years, including Reagan appointee Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"We are united in the belief that the United States Senate must act promptly to consider a nominee to fill the vacancy on the United State Supreme Court. We believe that a failure to do so would undermine the rule of law and ultimately impair the functioning of state government within our federal system," they wrote.

The letter was signed by attorneys general from California, Connecticut, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

In the letter, the attorneys general said states and territories rely on the Supreme Court to resolve disputes "that implicate States' vital interests," often times in closely decided cases.

The state Senate last week opted against voting on a resolution put forward by Sen. Kenneth Donnelly that would have called on the U.S. Senate to act, even if unfavorably, on the president's nominee.

Donnelly withdrew his amendment in favor of writing a letter instead after some senators, including Minority Leader Bruce Tarr, balked at the idea of forcing a partisan vote on federal affairs.

Gov. Charlie Baker, a Republican, has also said he believes Obama's nominee, whoever it might be, deserves a confirmation hearing and vote before the Senate.


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