Freshly sworn in as Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer vowed on Tuesday to vehemently oppose President-elect Donald Trump’s first U.S. Supreme Court pick.
“It’s hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support,” Schumer told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow.
Schumer said he will “absolutely” do his “best to hold the seat open” on the Supreme Court.
The Senate’s new top Democrat says blocking Trump’s nominee pick is about giving the Republican-controlled Senate, which refused to vote on President Barack Obama’s last nomination to the Supreme Court, a taste of its own medicine.
After the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia last February, Obama nominated U.S. Appeals Judge Merrick Garland to the highest court. Republicans, however, blocked Garland’s nomination for nine months—more than twice as long as any other nomination to the court has gone without a vote.
The GOP vowed to allow the incoming president to nominate the next justice despite Democrats’ demands to allow Obama another appointment. As the 115th Congress was sworn in on Tuesday, Garland’s nomination expired.
Schumer threatened retribution against the GOP for not voting on Obama’s nominee.
“Well, the consequences are going to be down the road, the consequences are going to be down the road. We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee. If they don’t appoint someone who is really good, we’re going to oppose him tooth-and-nail,” Schumer said. “Now then, they won’t have 60 votes to put in an out-of-the-mainstream nominee, and then they’ll have to make a choice: Change the rules,” he continued.
Schumer claimed Republicans created “chaos” for stonewalling Obama’s nominee and said he’d rather keep the seat vacant than confirm any of Trump’s nominees.
“We are not going to make it easy for them to pick a Supreme Court justice,” he said. “It’s hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we [Democrats] could support.”
Republicans will hold a 52-48 seat advantage in the new Congress, making the filibuster one of the only alternatives Democrats can rely on to trammel the Senate GOP’s agenda, a tool they notoriously used to stonewall President George W. Bush’s nominees.
Democrats successfully stonewalled 10 of Bush’s circuit court nominees, setting the precedent for partisan filibusters of federal judges.
If Democrats choose to block Trump’s Supreme Court nominees, they face backlash in the midterm elections; the party has 10 senators up for reelection in 2018 in states Trump won.
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