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Biden: GOP calls to delay filling Scalia's seat don't make sense

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Vice President Joe Biden in St. Paul
Vice President Joe Biden is pushing back against Republicans who insist that President Obama pass on nominating a new Supreme Court justice. Here, Biden speaks during a stop at St. Paul's Union Depot Thursday morning.
Glen Stubbe | Star Tribune via AP

Updated: 2:45 p.m. | Posted: 5 a.m.

Vice President Joe Biden spoke at St. Paul's Union Depot Thursday morning about President Barack Obama's 2009 economic stimulus program and the private investment it spurred.

Ahead of his visit to Minnesota, Biden said in an interview with MPR News host Cathy Wurzer that calls from some Republicans for Obama to pass on nominating a new Supreme Court justice don't make sense.

Some Republicans argue that a new justice shouldn't replace Antonin Scalia, who died last weekend, until after a new president takes office in January.

"To leave the seat vacant at this critical moment in American history is a little bit like saying, 'God forbid something happen to the president and the vice president, we're not going to fill the presidency for another year and a half,'" Biden said.

Almost immediately after Scalia's death went public, presidential hopefuls made filling his vacancy on the high court a top campaign issue.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia
Some Republicans argue that a new justice shouldn't replace Antonin Scalia, who died last weekend, until after a new president takes office in January.
Alex Wong | Getty Images 2014

Obama has said he will "do his job" as president and nominate a successor to Scalia's seat. Though the White House hasn't publicly disclosed any candidates Obama is considering, several names have popped up, including Minnesota's U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar. 

"The Senate gets to have a say, and so 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," Biden said in the MPR News interview. "There are plenty of judges who are on high courts already who have had unanimous support of the Republicans."

Biden's remarks came amid growing signs that some Republicans were softening their stance about considering Obama's nominee. Though Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said Obama shouldn't even nominate a candidate, Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said Wednesday that his nominee should get a hearing, and others have left the door open.

Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor became the latest voice arguing Scalia's seat should be filled expeditiously. O'Connor, a Ronald Reagan nominee who retired in 2006, told Fox 10 in Phoenix 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."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.