With the unexpected loss of Justice Antonin Scalia, many in the Republican Party are calling for President Obama to cede his duty to nominate a replacement justice to the next elected president.

This is being portrayed as an act of good will, in the face of a divided electorate, and in the best interests of the country.

But in my view, this is a rather naked tactic designed to try to maintain the current ideological balance of the court by delaying the nomination in hopes of a Republican president in 2017.

The closest historical analogy to the current situation was in 1987, in the third year of Ronald Reagan’s second term, when Justice Lewis Powell retired and, in November, Reagan nominated Anthony Kennedy to replace him, with less than a year to go before the next election.

Reagan called on all Americans “to join together in a bipartisan effort to fulfill our constitutional obligation of restoring the U.S. Supreme Court to full strength,” and asked the Senate (which was Democratic-controlled) for “prompt hearings conducted in the spirit of cooperation and bipartisanship.”

Kennedy was confirmed by a 97-0 vote in February 1988, Reagan’s “lame-duck” year.

If the icon of the modern conservative Republican Party can ask for, and receive, cooperation from the opposition party in pretty much the same circumstance as the present one, it would be nice to see his political descendants return the favor.

And Scalia, as a strict constitutionalist, would not likely have agreed with what Republicans are proposing, but instead would have expected his replacement to be nominated by the sitting president and given due consideration by the Senate in a timely fashion.

Doug Zlatin

Falmouth