Obama: Republicans are 'worried and scared' over the looming Supreme Court battle

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Showdown Over the Supreme Court Nominee

President Barack Obama told NPR that Republicans are "worried and scared" that their base will "punish them" should they decide to hold hearings and vote on his nominee for the vacant Supreme Court seat.

"And, you know, one of the most puzzling arguments that I've heard from Mitch McConnell and some other Republicans is this notion that the American people should decide — we should let the American people decide, as part of this election, who gets to fill this seat," Obama said in the interview published Friday, referring to the Senate's majority leader.

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He added that, by winning a national election in 2012, the people "already weighed in" by reelecting him to fulfill the duties of the position for the entirety of another four-year term.

"The bottom line is that there has not been a coherent argument presented" by Republicans, Obama said.

He continued: "The real argument is the one that you made, Nina, which is that they don't want a Democrat filling the seat, and they are worried and scared about their political base punishing them if they allow a Democrat to fill the seat."

RELATED: Obama nominates new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland

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Obama appoints new Supreme Court justice Merrick Garland
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Obama: Republicans are 'worried and scared' over the looming Supreme Court battle
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, shakes hands with with President Barack Obama as Vice President Joe Biden looks on as he is introduced as Obamaâs nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Washington. Garland, 63, is the chief judge for the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a court whose influence over federal policy and national security matters has made it a proving ground for potential Supreme Court justices. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)
President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, center, introduce Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, as Obamaâs nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, right, stands with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obamaâs nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, on Wednesday, March 16, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Federal appeals court judge Merrick Garland, walks out with President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden as he is introduced as Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court during an announcement in the Rose Garden of the White House, in Washington, Wednesday, March 16, 2016. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)
This photo provided by the U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit shows Chief Judge Merrick Garland in 2013, in Washington. (U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit via AP)
FILE - In this May 1, 2008 file photo, Judge Merrick B. Garland, U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, is pictured before the start of a ceremony at the federal courthouse in Washington. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens, the court's oldest member and leader of its liberal bloc, he is retiring. President Barack Obama now has his second high court opening to fill. The leading candidates to replace Stevens are Solicitor General Elena Kagan, 49, and federal appellate Judges Merrick Garland, 57, and Diane Wood, 59. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak, File)
Deputy U.S. Attorney Merrick Garland, left, looks on as interim U.S. Attorney Patrick Ryan answers questions during a news conference Thursday May 18, 1995, following a preliminary hearing in El Reno, Okla., for Terry Nichols. A magistrate ruled that there was enough evidence to hold Nichols in prison. (AP Photo/David Longstreath)
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Obama on Wednesday announced the nomination of US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat left vacant by the late Antonin Scalia.

After Obama's announcement, McConnell was quick to say he would not even meet with the judge, let alone bend on the suggestion that Republicans would not hold confirmation hearings on the nominee. He said this was based on "principle" and not because of "the person."

"The American people may well elect a president who decides to nominate Judge Garland for Senate consideration," McConnell said. "The next president may also nominate someone very different. Either way, our view is this: Give the people a voice in the filling of this vacancy."

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But other members of his party, including Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa, have stated they either would be or would be open to meeting with Garland. Others have suggested that, should former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton win in the November election, they might think of confirming Obama's nominee during the so-called lame-duck session of Congress.

Garland is seen by court watchers as a centrist or center-left judge, and he has also been known to swing to the right on criminal-justice issues. But some Republicans have rushed to label him a "liberal."

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