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GOP Launches Preemptive Strike at Obama’s Upcoming Supreme Court Pick

The GOP is formally launching a campaign to prevent an Obama Supreme Court appointment before a nominee has even been named.

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President Barack Obama is expected to announce his nomination for the Supreme Court as early as Monday, and the Republicans aren’t wasting any time: They’ve just formally launched an effort to block the nominee from joining the highest U.S. court while Obama occupies the White House.

Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Monday that he would team up with the conservative opposition research group America Rising Squared to campaign against the pick, no matter who it is. Priebus called the effort “the most comprehensive judicial response effort in our party’s history.” The opposition group, which goes by AR2, is helmed by Brian Rogers, former communications chief for Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.). It’s funded by the conservative America Rising PAC.

“We’re going to hold everyone accountable and make sure Democrats have to answer to the American people for why they don’t want voters to have a say in this process,” he said in a statement.

For his part, Obama has repeatedly insisted that it is his constitutional right to appoint a judge to replace the deceased, conservative former Justice Antonin Scalia before he closes out his term. He’s also argued that Congress has an obligation to consider the eventual nominee.

Since Scalia’s passing, Republicans, spooked by the possibility of a liberal appointee that could swing the balance of power on the court, have insisted that the next president, not Obama, should name the next justice. Priebus’ announcement shows that they are turning their tough talk into action as the presidential campaign continues to sizzle.

Meanwhile, a shortlist of possible nominees has emerged. According to multiple reports, the three leading candidates are Judges Sri Srinivasan of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit; and Paul Watford of the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If Srinivasan is nominated and confirmed, he would be the first Asian American and Hindu on the Supreme Court. Whether he or any of the others in contention will ever get to face lawmakers while Obama is in office remains to be seen.

Photo credit: Jim Watson/Getty Images

David Francis was a senior reporter for Foreign Policy, where he covered international finance. @davidcfrancis

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