White House Deploys New Twitter Account in SCOTUS Battle

U.S. President Barack Obama participates in an onstage interview at the South by Southwest Interactive in Austin
U.S. President Barack Obama participates in an onstage interview at the South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas, March 11, 2016. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst - RTSAFCA
© Jonathan Ernst / Reuters REUTERS

The Obama Administration has opened a new (digital) front in its ongoing battle with Republicans over the U.S. Supreme Court.

The White House on Wednesday launched a new Twitter (TWTR) account, called SCOTUS Nomination. The account, @SCOTUSnom, kicked off its tweets saying that President Obama will announce his pick to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia at 11 a.m. ET Wednesday. The tweet added that the account would be a place for users to “follow along to get the facts on [President Obama’s] nominee and the nomination process in the Senate.”

Over the last couple of hours, the @SCOTUSnom account has been extremely active. There are already nine tweets in just two hours, and all include facts about the Supreme Court. Most of the content is dedicated to explaining why Republicans attempting to stop the president’s appointment of anyone to the U.S. Supreme Court would be damaging to the country.

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“Without a ninth justice, 4-4 [Supreme Court of the United States] decisions can’t legally establish uniform, nationwide rules,” the latest tweet reads.

The White House’s decision to open the Twitter account is just the latest attempt by the Obama administration to make clear that the president reserves the right to nominate someone to the U.S. Supreme Court, and for that person to ultimately be vetted and voted on by Congress. However, many lawmakers, including the vast majority of Republicans, who control the Senate, argue that since 2016 is an election year, the next president of the United States should choose the person to fill the vacancy.

Last month, Scalia, widely viewed as a conservative justice, died, leaving a vacancy on the highest court in the U.S. Since then, the vacancy has been politicized, with the president arguing he reserves the right to nominate a justice and his competitors, including many Republican presidential candidates, rejecting that argument.

Read more: Here’s When Obama Will Announce His Supreme Court Nominee

Regardless, the president has pushed on, saying there is a historical precedent for presidents in election years to nominate justices. Indeed, a few tweets on the new @SCOTUSnom have been used to remind followers that “one-third of all previous U.S. presidents have had a nominee confirmed to the Supreme Court in an election year.”

Obama is believed to have narrowed his search to two judges: Sri Srinivasan or Merrick Garland. Both judges serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

The president’s decision to use Twitter to get the point across illustrates the importance social media now plays in the political world. Indeed, it was Obama’s ability to capture the attention of the electorate on social media that propelled him to the presidency. Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has also effectively used social media to engage constituents. All other candidates are also vying for support on Twitter and Facebook (FB).

For more about the Supreme Court battle, watch:

It appears at this point that the @SCOTUSnom will continue to be populated until either the president’s nomination is confirmed or shut down. The White House did not say how long it will maintain the account.

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