Senate Republicans spent a year denying President Barack Obama his Constitutional right to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat, and now Senate Democrats are vowing to keep that seat vacant for as long as the Republicans hold the White House. In a move which falls in line with the “turnabout is fair play” doctrine, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer now says that the Democrats will use every tool available to them to block nearly any nominee that Donald Trump puts forward during his tenure. And the strategy might just work.
Schumer is hypothetically leaving the door open in case Donald Trump puts forth a reasonable Supreme Court nominee, but he’s adding that “it’s hard for me to imagine” such a thing would happen. Now that the Senate Republicans have established that there truly is no timeframe for holding hearings for a nominee after holding off Merrick Garland for a year, the Senate Democrats can use that strategy to try to stretch it out for another four years.
While the Democrats don’t hold a majority in the Senate, they do have filibuster power to block any nominee. The only thing that could prevent the Democrats from continuing a years-long blockade would be public pressure for them go ahead and allow someone to be confirmed, and that pressure would have to come from America’s political middle. But with the middle having shown no desire to pressure Republicans to confirm Garland, there is little reason to expect the middle to pressure Democrats to approve a Trump nominee either.
That would leave the Supreme Court with just eight members, but they could still rule on cases with a 5-3 vote. Even if one of the elderly current justices were to pass away, the court could continue with seven justices and rule on cases with a 4-3 vote. And since the Democratic President Obama was supposed to have been the one to fill the seat to begin with, the Senate Democrats can make the argument to the public that the seat should remain open until there’s another Democratic President in four years. Watch Chuck Schumer tell Rachel Maddow on MSNBC about his Supreme Court strategy in the video below:
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report