WASHINGTON — Democrats are now concerned over the risks of filibustering President Donald Trump’s forthcoming Supreme Court nominee.
Trump announced Monday morning he would present his high court pick Tuesday and Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley responded that whoever it is, his party would filibuster the nominee.
“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview with Politico Monday. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.
However, according to CNN, Democrats discussed during a private retreat in West Virginia last week that blocking Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — who would replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia — is potentially unwise and it would be better if they saved their big battle over the Supreme Court for when the seat of a more left-leaning justice opens up.
Democrats may be looking at others on the court like liberal justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, or Stephen Breyer, 78, when it comes to their next fight. Additionally, Justice Anthony Kennedy, often the swing vote on the court, is 80. If Republicans do away with the filibuster and one of the older justices’ seats become available, it could change the makeup of the court for a long time.
Democrats were not jumping on to Merkley’s bandwagon quickly Monday night either.
“I’m not a filibuster type of guy,” West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin told reporters when asked if he would support his party’s blocking of a Trump Supreme Court pick.
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson refused to say if he would join a filibuster either.
Delaware Democratic Sen. Chris Coons, a member of the Judiciary Committee, told CNN he is still angry over the Republicans’ decision to not hold a confirmation hearing for Obama Supreme Court pick Judge Merrick Garland from filling the seat.
“But I’m not going to do to President Trump’s nominee what the Republicans in the Senate did to President Obama’s,” Coons said. “I will push for a hearing and I will push for a vote.”
According to CNN, other Democrats privately agreed with Coons. Trump previously stated he was willing to push Republicans in the Senate to change the rules of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees to get his nominee through, but upper chamber Republicans appear not ready to go that route just yet.
“That’s not a presidential decision. That’s a Senate decision,” McConnell told Politico in an interview Friday. “What I’ve said to him, and I’ve stated publicly and I’ll say today: We’re going to get this nominee confirmed.”
As Majority Leader four years ago, former Nevada Democratic Sen. Harry Reid changed the rules of the filibuster on executive level appointments and most judicial level nominees to needing only a simple majority for confirmation.
However, with only a 52-vote majority in the Senate, Republicans must either convince eight Democrats to side with them on a high court nominee, or change the rules and require only a simple majority to end debate on a Supreme Court appointment and go on to the separate up or down simple majority vote for the nominee’s confirmation. That is known as the “nuclear option.”
Oklahoma Republican Sen. James Inhofe agreed with McConnell telling the The Daily Caller Monday, “I’m just absolutely convinced our nominees will be confirmed,” Inhofe said, noting that Reid already demonstrated that the rules could be changed to use the nuclear option. “But I don’t think it will be necessary.”