Supreme Court (U.S.)

Obama describes what he wants in replacement for Scalia

US Supreme Court in Washington, DC.
Mandel Ngan | AFP | Getty Images

U.S. President Barack Obama on Wednesday vowed to move ahead with a Supreme Court justice nominee despite defiance from Senate Republicans, saying he will pick someone with an "independent mind" who understands how laws affect people's lives.

In a guest post on the independent, Obama outlined the top qualities he is looking for in a replacement for Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this month. Obama gave no timeline for making his selection.

He said his choice "will be eminently qualified" and have a mastery of the law to give clear answers to complicated legal questions. Additionally, "the person I appoint will be someone who recognizes the limits of the judiciary's role; who understands that a judge's job is to interpret the law, not make the law," he said.

Obama said he also wants a nominee who has the life experience to understand that law is not abstract legal theory but "affects the daily reality of people's lives in a big, complicated democracy, and in rapidly changing times."

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Behind the political chess game Justice Scalia's death creates

The Senate must confirm any nominee from Obama, a Democrat, but Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed not to allow the chamber to consider any nominee during the president's last year in office.

The death of Scalia, a conservative stalwart, left the court with an 4-4 ideological split as it moves to complete the remainder of its term. The court still could have open seat when its next session starts in October.

Obama, who has placed two justices on the high court bench during his seven years in office, wrote that he would "fulfill my constitutional duty to appoint a judge to our highest court" and urged the Republican-led Senate to also fulfill its responsibilities under the U.S. Constitution.

"I hope they'll move quickly to debate and then confirm this nominee so that the court can continue to serve the American people at full strength," he wrote.