Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General of the United States under President George W. Bush, said on Monday that President Barack Obama had an "obligation" to fill a vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Republican presidential candidates and other party leaders argued that President Obama should not attempt to fill the vacancy in his last 11 months, and that the next president should make the appointment instead.
"I know there's a big debate going on right now about whether or not Obama should nominate someone," Gonzales told CNN's Chris Cuomo on Monday. "From my perspective having worked at the White House and the Dept. of Justice, there's just no question in my mind that as president of the United States, you have an obligation to fill a vacancy."
"I suspect President Obama is going to do his job," he continued. "And after he does his job and nominating a hopefully qualified individual, the Senate will do its job eventually on its own calendar."
"The bottom line from my perspective, is the president has to do his job in nominating a qualified individual and then the Senate does it's job in assessing whether or not this person is qualified for a lifetime appointment on the court based upon experience, based upon ideology and based upon integrity."
According to SCOTUSblog, there is no tradition of leaving a Supreme Court seat vacant because of an election year.
"The historical record does not reveal any instances since at least 1900 of the president failing to nominate and/or the Senate failing to confirm a nominee in a presidential election year because of the impending election," SCOTUSblog's Amy Howe wrote on Saturday.