(CNN) — A bitter battle is brewing over when to replace the leading conservative on america’s most powerful court.
President Obama says he intends to nominate a successor for Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who died earlier this weekend.
Choosing a justice is a rare opportunity for any president — a seat on the court is a lifetime appointment.
But this one in particular will shift the balance on the court, and Republicans are already putting up roadblocks.
After the justice’s death was announced just hours before, it did not take long for the response to get political in the Republican presidential primary debate Saturday. One by one, the GOP candidates paid homage to the conservative lion and predicted that any Obama nominee to replace him would be unsuccessful.
“There is no doubt in my mind that Barack Obama will not have a consensus pick when he submits that person to the Senate,” said candidate Jeb Bush.
But the president is pushing forward, promising to nominate someone quickly and warning Senate Republicans to not play politics with the court.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell called on the president to wait and leave the decision in the “hands of the voters” and the winner of the race for the White Jouse.
Rank-and-file Republicans like Lindsey Graham said any Obama nominee will have a rough time being confirmed. He said that “the practical consequence is that no one will be appointed that is not a consensus choice.”
And as the president and Senate leaders squabble, it will be against the backdrop of an increasingly divisive presidential election.
Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton rushed to support Obama’s right to pick the nominee and pushed the Senate to confirm.
The Republican candidates vowed to stand in the way, only stepping aside once a conservative is nominated in the mold of Scalia.
This sets the stage for a rocky few months in Washington with the future of both the Supreme Court and the White House in the balance.