Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (Reuters):
"It would be unprecedented in recent history for the Supreme Court to go a year with a vacant seat," he said in a statement.Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles E. Grassley (The Washington Times)
"The fact of the matter is that it’s been standard practice over the last 80 years to not confirm Supreme Court nominees during a presidential election year," he said.
The vacancy itself is unprecedented. Senate confirmation has not been an issue simply because a similar vacancy has never happened "in recent history." The Senate has not left an election year vacancy vacant in the last 80 years because an election year vacancy has not occurred since 1932, 84 years ago.
To borrow a phrase from President Obama, the Senate majority might start saying "elections have consequences."