Rep. Patrick Murphy (D., Fla.) appeared to say Wednesday that the role of the Senate is to confirm whoever the president nominates for the Supreme Court, rather than the "advise and consent" role it has through the Constitution.
Murphy, during a debate against Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.), who he is trying to unseat in November, was asked by the moderator what criteria would be important for him to confirm a nominee from "a president of the opposing party."
"Well, the Constitution is pretty clear on this one," Murphy said. "It's the president's role to nominate a Supreme Court justice, and it is the Senate's job to confirm that individual. In fact, I think this is one of the most important jobs of being a United States senator."
Murphy went on to attack Rubio and Senate Republicans for not holding a hearing on President Obama's current Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.
While the Senate is the body that confirms the president's Supreme Court choices, it is under no obligation to do so or hold confirmation hearings on the matter.
The politics of Supreme Court nominations is playing a large role in the 2016 campaign, particularly in light of the current vacancy. Justice Antonin Scalia died in February, and the Republican-controlled Senate said it would not hold hearings or a vote this year on Garland, even in the lame-duck period.
Among the precedent cited by Republicans not to act was a 1992 speech by then-Sen. Joe Biden (D., Del.), now Obama's vice president, urging President George H.W. Bush not to name a Supreme Court nominee until after that year's election, should a vacancy open up.