This analysis by journalist Brianne Gorod tells us that if President Obama does not get a Supreme Court justice approved during the 300 days he has left in office, it will effectively be October, 2017, at the earliest before we have a full nine-member Supreme Court. That means the court will be at a 4-4 divide on many of the 120 or so cases it will hear between now and then and a tie goes to the lower court. That ruling by the lower court would apply only to the specific case and not to the law of the land, as a whole.
Is that a problem? Maybe not to the far right wing of the Republican Party, which believes we simply don't need a government, but to most of us it represents a serious uncertainty about where our country stands on a number of important issues.
Even after Obama leaves office and the new president is left to make the nomination, how long do we imagine confirmation will take, even if the president is a Republican? Say tthat president is Trump or Cruz, both of whom are despised by Senate Republicans. Will their nominee get a fair hearing. Will the Democrats filibuster the nominee. Will the Senate play delay indefinitely.
If the president is Hillary Clinton, how easy do you imagine she will have it in getting a nominee approved. Probably the same as Obama. The Republicans, provided they still control the Senate, would not find anybody she wants acceptable, but would they delay an appointment for four more years or eight more years? I would not for a minute doubt that effort.
This game is power politics from a party whose ethics went away many years ago (about the time Reagan was elected) and I'm not sure we will hear the end of it in my lifetime.