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By Kevin Daley
Senate Democrats will attempt to block President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, regardless of who the president selects to fill the vacancy.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley told Politico he will filibuster any nominee Trump puts forward, unless the nominee is Judge Merrick Garland of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. Senate Republicans successfully stymied Garland’s nomination for almost 10 months after former President Barack Obama selected him to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
“A very large number of my colleagues will be opposed,” he added.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer previously suggested his caucus is likely oppose any individual Trump picks for the vacancy.
“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 in early January.
“And so you will do your best to hold the seat open?” Maddow asked.
“Absolutely,” he replied. (RELATED: Schumer Warns Trump: Pick A Mainstream Supreme Court Nominee)
If Democrats successfully prevent Republicans from marshaling the 60 votes necessary for a confirmation vote, the GOP’s only recourse will be abolishing the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. The 60-vote threshold for most judicial nominations was abolished in 2013 when Democrats ran the Senate, though it remains in place for the high court.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed reticence about abolishing the filibuster, and expressed confidence that Trump’s nominee will be able to solicit support from both parties.
“We’re going to get this nominee confirmed. I hope he or she will be confirmed based upon the completely outstanding credentials that we’re going to see,” McConnell said. “Hopefully will be treated the way such a nominee would have been treated as recently as Bush 43.”
A formal announcement about the nomination is expected from the White House Tuesday night at 8 p.m. EST. The two frontrunners for the appointment, Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Thomas Hardiman, did not attract a single dissenting vote when they were confirmed to their respective circuit courts during the Bush administration.
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