News (USA)

Supreme Court vacancy highlights stakes in presidential race

Trying to counter Sanders’ momentum, Clinton has urged voters to consider which candidate is most electable in November. With the balance of the Supreme Court now potentially on the line, Clinton and her allies are certain to increase their warnings about the risk of sending a self-declared democratic socialist to face a Republican in the fall.

“For any Democrat thinking about casting a protest vote for Sen. Sanders, this should serve as a wake-up call for what’s exactly at stake,” said Jim Manley, a former aide to top Democratic senators.

Among Republicans, Marco Rubio, Jeb Bush and John Kasich are casting themselves as candidates who could appeal to swing voters in the general election and put the GOP in position to guide the next court nominations. But that could open them up to questions from Republican primary voters about the ideological purity of their judicial choices.

Cruz is using the potential vacancy to build on his long-standing argument that Republicans should select a nominee with the most conservative credentials. An uncompromising conservative since arriving in the Senate, Cruz vowed to put “principled constitutionalists” on the Supreme Court.

Trump was alone among the candidates in naming specific justices he would consider nominating. He singled out Diane Sykes and William Pryor, federal judges appointed by former President George W. Bush.

During Saturday’s debate, Kasich bemoaned that Washington and presidential candidates had “run so fast into politics” following Scalia’s death.

But if anything, the speed at which politics did take over portends a furious fight to come over which candidate gets to put his or her imprint on the court.

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Associated Press writer Ken Thomas contributed to this report.

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