With President Donald Trump set to make his Supreme Court selection Tuesday night, an all-out brawl is potentially on the precipice of breaking out in the Senate.
And it could result in the “nuclear” option being implemented.
Many Senate Democrats are still enraged at the nearly year-long blockade put forth by their Republican counterparts, stunting President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat vacated by the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
And they want retribution, promising to block any selection from Trump.
If Democrats decide to filibuster Trump’s choice, the nominee would need 60 votes to pass. Republicans control 52 seats.
Sen. Jeff Merkley, an Oregon Democrat, told Politico on Monday that he would filibuster any choice that was not Garland.
“This is a stolen seat,” he said. “This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat. We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
And although Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat, told reporters on Tuesday he would a Trump nominee “based on the merits,” he later opened the door to years of obstruction.
“One of the unfortunate consequences of the Garland obstructionism has been to show that, in fact, the Supreme Court can function with eight members,” he said.
Should Democrats decide to go forth with filibustering the selection — which is reportedly either going to be 10th Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch or 3rd Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could enact that “nuclear” option, killing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
The Senate rules could be changed by simple majority, eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. That option was last invoked by former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to assist in the confirmation of Obama’s judicial and executive nominees. But, McConnell has not expressed disdain for applying the “nuclear” option.
Speaking to Politico Friday, McConnell said the “practice was that you didn’t do it even though the tool is in the toolbox.”
“There are a lot of tools in there,” he said. “Until Bush 43, the filibuster tool was always there. But it wasn’t done.” “Two good examples: There was no filibuster against [Robert] Bork and, of course, the most controversial Supreme Court nomination ever was Clarence Thomas. Democrats were in the majority; he was approved 52-48.”
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