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Joe Biden drops Republican support hint over Supreme Court candidate

Published 18/02/2016

Joe Biden has hinted the candidate for the Supreme Court could have widespread Republican support (AP)
Joe Biden has hinted the candidate for the Supreme Court could have widespread Republican support (AP)

Barack Obama is looking to nominate a Supreme Court candidate who has enjoyed past Republican support, Vice President Joe Biden has said.

The comments offer some of the first indications of the president's criteria in replacing the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

In a radio interview on Thursday, Mr Biden pushed back against Republicans who insist Mr Obama leaves the decision to the next president.

The US Constitution provides that any nominee put forth by the president for the country's highest court must be confirmed by the Senate, where Republicans currently have a 54-46 majority.

Mr Biden told Minnesota Public Radio: "In order to get this done, the president is not going to be able to go out - nor would it be his instinct, anyway - to pick the most liberal jurist in the nation and put them on the court.

"There are plenty of judges (who) are on high courts already who have had unanimous support of the Republicans."

Mr Scalia's replacement could tip the ideological balance of the nine-member court, which is now divided evenly between liberals and conservatives.

The court would be unable to issue rulings on any issue in which the justices split 4-4.

Mr Biden's remarks came amid growing signs some Republicans are softening their stance about considering Mr Obama's nominee.

Though Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell has said Mr Obama should not even nominate a candidate, Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said his nominee should get a hearing, and others have left that possibility open.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor became the latest voice arguing Mr Scalia's seat should be filled quickly.

Ms O'Connor, a Ronald Reagan nominee who retired in 2006, told Fox 10 she disagreed with those calling to wait for the next president.

"I think we need somebody there now to do the job," she said, "and let's get on with it."

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