Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace made incoming Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer squirm when he pointed to the New York Democrat’s apparent flip-flop on the use of the “nuclear option” for judicial appointments now that Donald Trump, and not Hillary Clinton, is president-elect.
Wallace reminded Schumer that he was among those Democrat senators in 2013 who backed then Majority Leader Harry Reid’s use of the “nuclear option” to push through some of President Barack Obama’s more radical appointees to the federal bench by a simple majority vote.
The Fox News host showed a clip of Schumer from that time period justifying the move. “It’s a new world. People demand action. The old rules need to be modified, and that’s what we have done today,” the New York senator said.
Wallace further noted, “Last month when it looked like Hillary Clinton was going to win, you refused to close the door on extending the nuclear option to filibusters of Supreme Court nominees.”
“So, if it’s fair for you, why isn’t it fair for the Republicans?” Wallace asked.
Schumer smiled, clearly recognizing he had been caught in his hypocrisy, and acknowledged that Wallace had his facts right: “Correct. … What I said at the time is I hope we won’t get to it.”
Wallace also questioned Schumer on whether the Democrats would filibuster a Trump nominee to the Supreme Court if he made good on his promise to nominate a “conservative” to replace Justice Antonin Scalia.
“I would hope first and foremost that President Trump nominates a mainstream nominee capable of getting bipartisan support,” the senator said.
“If he does, then we’ll give it just a very, very thorough vetting, but we won’t ipso facto say no. If it’s out of the mainstream, yes, we’re going to fight that nominee tooth and nail,” he added without denying that might include a filibuster.
Wallace noted a Supreme Court nominee had only been filibustered one other time in U.S. history. In 1968, President Lyndon Johnson withdrew his nomination of Associate Justice Abe Fortas to be chief justice after a cloture vote to end debate fell short.
As reported by Western Journalism, Trump released a list in May of 11 possible nominees to the Supreme Court from which he will likely choose. The list was made in consultation with the Federalist Society and other conservative organizations.
Among the businessman’s choices were Justice Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court, who clerked for Scalia and gave a eulogy at a memorial service for him; Utah Supreme Court Justice Thomas Lee, who clerked for Justice Clarence Thomas and is the brother of Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah; and 11th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge William Pryor, a President George W. Bush appointee whom Senate Democrats initially, successfully filibustered, citing his forthright pro-life views.
In September, Trump added 10 names to his list, including Mike Lee, who indicated he wasn’t interested in being nominated to the court.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, deemed Trump’s selections “an impressive list of highly qualified jurists.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest held a different view stating, “Let me make this observation: I would be surprised if there are any Democrats who would describe any of those 11 individuals as a consensus nominee.”
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