Owner of Cibolo Creek Ranch John Poindexter speaks to reporters the day following the death Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at the West Texas Resort ranch February 14, 2016 in Shafter, Texas. Matthew Busch/Getty Images/AFP
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The sudden and shocking death of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia opened a new and incendiary front in the already red-hot 2016 presidential race, one that promises to divide Democrats and Republicans and, perhaps, Republicans from themselves.The vacancy on the court, which is now evenly split 4-4 between its conservative and liberal wings, had Republicans calling on President Barack Obama to refrain from choosing a successor to the right-leaning Scalia while Democrats urged Obama to do as the U.S. Constitution requires and put forward a candidate to face confirmation in an albeit hostile Senate.Trump, who also has taken several positions at odds with Republican orthodoxy, joined other candidates at the debate in insisting that Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican majority leader in the Senate, stand by his promise to block any Obama high-court choice.Obama has already indicated that he intends to send a choice to the Senate in coming weeks, meaning that the nominee will be heavily scrutinized by presidential candidates in both parties – and more than likely be opposed by the majority of Republicans.Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton seemed inclined to make McConnell's threat a campaign issue.
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