Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s number two Democrat, told Fox News he won’t rule out a filibuster of President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court appointment, despite previous comments condemning such maneuvers.
Speaking with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, Durbin said Democrats would not oppose a “mainstream” nominee.
“Let me just say, I’m not going to jump ahead and tell you how I’m going to treat any nominee until I know who they are, what they stand for,” the senator said. “What we’ve said is that if you’ll bring us a moderate nominee and I told the White House this directly, one that is not too extreme on the right, on the left you won’t run into controversy.”
When pressed by Wallace, he declined to renounce the filibuster.
Speaking to the same issue eight years ago in the early days of the Obama administration, Durbin took exactly the opposite position, arguing that filibustering Supreme Court nominees contravenes Senate practice.
“Historically, Supreme Court justices have never been filibustered, and I would hope they would not consider that,” he told reporters in May, 2009, several weeks before former President Barack Obama nominated Justice Sonia Sotomayor to succeed Justice David Souter.
In fact, the Senate successfully filibustered one Supreme Court nominee. President Lyndon Johnson attempted to appoint Justice Abe Fortas as chief justice after Earl Warren announced his retirement in 1968. The nomination was blocked by a bipartisan coalition of senators wary of Fortas’ relationship with the beleaguered president, and troubled by rumors of an ethics scandal. He resigned the bench in disgrace a year later.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told reporters Monday that he will filibuster any nominee put forward by President Trump, except Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Republicans successfully stymied Garland’s nomination for nearly 10 months, after former President Barack Obama selected him to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Merkley claims most of the Democratic caucus will join him in the effort.
Senator Durbin’s office did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s inquiries.
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