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Republicans declare they will block Obama's Supreme Court replacement -

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MICHAEL BRISSENDEN: The bitter divisions of the United States political process have now spread to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court.

The Republican's reaction to the death of outspoken conservative Justice Antonin Scalia at the weekend was swift, declaring they will block President Obama from replacing him.

North America correspondent Michael Vincent reports.

MICHAEL VINCENT: On the latest issue to divide Americans, Republican candidates spoke with one voice at their latest debate.

TED CRUZ: We're not going to give up the US Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee.

MICHAEL VINCENT: A Supreme Court justice is a job for life, and they make laws that have a huge impact on Americans' lives.

Last year it was gay marriage and upholding Obamacare. Soon they'll make decisions on access to abortion and union funding.

Republicans are digging in, arguing that no Justice has ever been nominated during an election year, as opposed to being confirmed.

Former Supreme Court clerk, Texas senator and presidential candidate Ted Cruz remembers only too well the last time a Justice was confirmed in an election year, and that was 1988.

TED CRUZ: Democrats in the Senate had gone after and defeated two previous nominees - Robert Bork, which set a new standard for partisan attacks on a nominee, and Doug Ginsburg - so it was the Democrats that had dragged it out for many months to make it that late.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The Supreme Court is now evenly balanced between four liberals and four conservatives, and the conservatives want to keep it that way until after the election.

The Democrats are livid. A major platform of Democrat presidential candidate Bernie Sanders is overturning a Supreme Court decision on campaign financing that he says allows a corruption of democracy.

BERNIE SANDERS: I would never nominate anybody to the Supreme Court who is not prepared to overturn that disastrous decision which is allowing billionaires to buy elections and which is undermining American democracy.

MICHAEL VINCENT: The Supreme Court vacancy is now becoming a rallying cry on both sides of the political divide. Overnight, Hillary Clinton delivered this message to rousing applause from Democrats.

HILLARY CLINTON: Now I'm sure we'll all have a lot more to say about this in the coming days, so let me just make one point. Barack Obama is president of the United States until January 20th 2017.

(Cheers from crowd)

That is a fact, my friends, whether the Republicans like it or not.

MICHAEL VINCENT: Except that the Republicans control the Congress, and therefore the process for confirming a Supreme Court vacancy.

President Obama still has the option of bypassing the Congress with a so-called recess appointment but that may only help the Republicans politically.

So for now, there's more gridlock all the way to the highest court in America.

This is Michael Vincent in Washington for AM.