This resolution urges the Senate to reject any potential justices President Barack Obama nominates to the Supreme Court. Instead, it calls the Senate to wait for a new president before considering nominations.
A seat on the Supreme Court unexpectedly opened when Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016. Since the Court is made up of nine justices who hold their positions for life, openings are rare. To fill an opening, the president nominates a candidate, who must be approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee, and then the full Senate.
Without the conservative Scalia, the Supreme Court is ideologically divided (Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Anthony Kennedy, Clarence Thomas, and Samuel Alito lean to the right, while Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen Breyer, Sonia Sotomayor, and Elena Kagan lean left). This means Scalia’s successor stands to swing the court one way or the other. In general, democrats want Obama to appoint someone before leaving office, while republicans want to wait until a new president takes office.