That question might be worth discussing if it weren't for the fact that not a few vociferous participants in the present debate would probably be arguing the opposite side if the political roles were reversed-Republican president doing the nominating, Democrats in control of the Senate.
On a slightly deeper level, then, this is a battle to control the Supreme Court and determine its future direction. Numbers tell the story.
With Scalia's death, the court is divided 4-4 between liberals and conservatives (although the split becomes 5-3 any time that swing voting Anthony Kennedy votes with the liberals). Any Obama nominee for the court is nearly certain to give court a solid liberal majority of five, even without Kennedy.
Considering the advanced age of several of the court's members, this seems likely to swing in one direction or the other under the next president. But the prospect of having a guaranteed liberal majority in place even before Obama leaves office doesn't bode well for conservative interests.
At its deepest level, finally, what we are seeing as the Scalia succession fight unfolds is another battle in an ongoing war-a culture war-over fundamental values. Abortion, euthanasia, religious liberty, and church-state relations are part of it. Same-sex marriage is a particularly good illustration.
Last June the court ruled 5-4 that gay couples have a constitutional right to marry. Implicitly or explicitly, the approval of same-sex marriage involves a profound displacement of the meaning of marriage itself-from a relationship fundamentally oriented to the begetting and nurturing of children to one whose chief purpose is the gratification of the partners.