[JURIST] Republicans in the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday vowed to block any Supreme Court nominee by President Obama [official websites]. In a letter [text] to the majority leader of the primarily-Republican Senate, all 11 of the Judiciary Committee's Republicans promised to hold no hearings on a nominee until the new president is inaugurated in January. If Republicans do maintain their holdout, it is possible that the Supreme Court will operate with only eight justices until as late as April of next year, the longest period the Court will have gone without a full bench. Republicans justify their position by stating that the American people should have a say, through the presidential election, in who the next justice will be.
The Supreme Court has operated with eight justices since February 13, when Justice Antonin Scalia passed away [JURIST report]. Later in February, the Supreme Court issued its first major decision with a limited bench when it ruled that North Carolina must redraw [JURIST report] two of its congressional districts, as the districts had been drawn in 2011 to increase their respective minority populations. Earlier this week, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell alluded to blocking [thinkprogress report] not only Obama's Supreme Court nominees, but the next president's as well.