- In a Saturday conference call, Chuck Schumer said that "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans try to rush to fill the open Supreme Court seat, formerly held by the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg.
- Schumer, the minority leader, has generally been cautious about pushing big institutional changes in the past, but his new statement signals a renewed fight for the majority this November.
- Democrats cannot block a Supreme Court nomination with their 47-member caucus and would need to peel off wavering Republicans to stop McConnell and Trump.
- McConnell has vowed to fill Ginsberg's seat, saying "once again, we will keep our promise."
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In a Saturday conference call with the Senate Democratic Caucus, Chuck Schumer said that "nothing is off the table next year" if Republicans try to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, according to a source on the call.
Schumer, the minority leader, has generally been cautious about pushing big institutional changes in the past, but this statement signals a renewed fight for the majority this November, with reforms to the Supreme Court as well.
Ginsburg, who passed away on Friday at the age of 87, was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1993 by then-President Bill Clinton. Known for her sharp legal acumen, she had been a pillar of the court's liberal bloc for decades, deciding on everything from business regulations and voting rights to health care and gun rights. If Senate Republicans were able to confirm a successor, the court would have 6 justices appointed by Republican presidents and 3 appointed by Democratic presidents.
—Geoff Bennett (@GeoffRBennett) September 19, 2020
Schumer, whose caucus is comprised of 45 Democrats and 2 Independents, can't block Supreme Court nominees from being confirmed on their own. In order to block a nominee, Schumer would need to peel off some wavering Republicans like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine, and Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who all previously voiced disapproval of nominating a Supreme Court justice during a presidential year. The minority leader would also try to court more institutionalist Republicans like Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Mitt Romney of Utah, neither of whom have confirmed their decisions yet.
"Our No. 1 goal must be to communicate the stakes of this Supreme Court fight to the American people," Mr. Schumer continued on the call, according to a Democrat who disclosed this information anonymously. "Everything Americans value is at stake: health care, protections for pre-existing conditions, women's rights, gay rights, workers' rights, labor rights, voting rights, civil rights, climate change and so much else is at risk."
Meanwhile, McConnell has vowed to fill the seat.
"Americans re-elected our majority in 2016 and expanded it in 2018 because we pledged to work with President Trump and support his agenda, particularly his outstanding appointments to the federal judiciary," McConnell said in a statement on Friday. "Once again, we will keep our promise. President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate."
Trump also said he plans to nominate a replacement within the "coming days," saying he had the "obligation" to fill the seat "without delay."