- Associated Press - Thursday, February 18, 2016

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) - U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse says President Barack Obama must stand up to Republicans who are trying to block him from nominating someone this year to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Rhode Island Democrat said that not replacing Scalia soon would be a “really big mistake.”

“I don’t care what your political views are,” he said Thursday in Providence. “The idea that any political appointee is prejudged before their name even comes forward, I don’t think any American thinks that’s fair.”

It will be difficult to get the Senate to confirm a nominee, he added.

Rhode Island’s other U.S. senator, Democrat Jack Reed, also said in a statement Thursday that the nomination and confirmation process should move forward.

Whitehouse thinks the court needs a justice with political experience, such as a governor or senator. He said the Supreme Court’s “wretched” Citizens United ruling came about, in part, because the justices were “ignorant about political life.” The ruling cleared the way for super PACs and unlimited campaign contributions.

Whitehouse, a former U.S. attorney and state attorney general, isn’t interested in the job. There was speculation he could be considered.

“I absolutely love what I’m doing,” he said. “The Senate is a really vibrant place where you are either getting things done or fighting over things every minute. Going up to the court and leading the lonely, esoteric life of a Supreme Court justice just has very little appeal.”

Whitehouse said Vice President Joe Biden approached him before about filling a Supreme Court vacancy and though he was flattered, he turned it down. That vacancy was filled by Justice Elena Kagan.

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