President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee will not get a hearing or vote before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republicans on the panel declared Tuesday.
The 11 Senate Judiciary Republicans unanimously agreed the committee would not hold a hearing on a Supreme Court nominee until after the next elected president takes office.
The committee members announced their decision in a letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
"We wish to inform you of our intention to exercise our constitutional authority to withhold consent on any nominee to the Supreme Court submitted by this president to fill Justice Scalia's vacancy," the letter stated.
McConnell spoke to the media Tuesday following the decision by the GOP Judiciary Committee members.
"The overwhelming view of the Republican conference in the Senate is this vacancy should not be filled by this lame-duck president," McConnell stated.
The vacancy created after Antonin Scalia's unexpected death earlier this month ignited an epic political fight in Congress, with Republican lawmakers and presidential candidates arguing that the next person elected president in November should appoint a new Supreme Court justice, not President Barack Obama.
U.S. Sen. Mark Kirk (R-IL) broke ranks from his fellow Republicans Monday on the issue.
In an op-ed published in the Chicago Sun-Times, Kirk said Obama should nominate a Supreme Court justice to fill the vacancy, and the Senate should give that nominee "a fair and thorough hearing."
U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL), who served on the Judiciary Committee for 16 years, pushed back against opposition to consider an Obama SCOTUS appointment on the Senate floor Tuesday.
"Major legal and constitutional questions are constantly brought before the court. When the court is frozen at an even number of justices, many of those questions go unresolved and millions of Americans who are impacted by these questions have to wait," Durbin said.
"My Republican colleagues can choose to vote for or against President Obama's nominee. That is their prerogative," he added. "But they should not simply duck the vote. We weren't elected to this job to ignore important issues. We were elected to cast votes on important issues. And this is too important an issue to simply ignore."