Senate Democrats are about to face their toughest political test yet on the Trump era: a Supreme Court confirmation battle that could enjoy because they scrap when using the GOP for charge of the chamber.
The stakes are difficult to overstate. The confirmation itself could reshape the judge for just a generation, with Democrats warning of the rollback of abortion rights. And also the corresponding political fight might determine the outcome of key Senate races, where at-risk Democrats will be besieged with pressure to aid President Donald Trump’s nominee to interchange Justice Anthony Kennedy.
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Democrats find it difficult to steer clear of the GOP from confirming Trump’s nominee because Senate Republicans killed the filibuster on Supreme court nominees. However they may be able to sway some pro-abortion rights Republicans – when they can stick together. As a minimum, Democrats could present a united front that energizes their liberal base going into the midterm elections.
That’s not guaranteed, however. Three of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s most vulnerable Democrats backed Justice Neil Gorsuch in 2009. Though the dynamics are wide and varied as Trump faces the 2nd high court vacancy – especially a person to replace an essential swing vote.
Schumer joined the battle Wednesday by drawing a painful line against Trump’s Supreme Court shortlist. And although most Senate Democrats also began ruling out Trump’s likely nominees, the party’s moderates set no such conditions, leaving room to firm up their stances as soon as the president makes his choice.
Republicans already are vowing to hammer red-state Democrats who oppose the president’s pick.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), chief from the National Republican Senatorial Committee, said within an interview the coming Supreme court fight would be “perhaps the most important issue that one could imagine, entering the autumn.”
That leaves Schumer – credited by liberals and moderates for his leadership in the caucus so far – staring across the toughest moment of his time as Democratic leader. He responded with a statement that ought to cheer progressive activists.
“The Senate should reject, at a bipartisan basis, any justice that would overturn Roe v. Wade or undermine key healthcare protections,” Schumer said inside a floor speech following the news of Kennedy’s retirement rocked Washington. “The Senate should reject anybody who will instinctively side with powerful special interests on the interests of average Americans.”
Democrats up for reelection in states Trump carried in 2016, however, made no such rejection vows. Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) issued your firm stand out saying just that however “thoroughly review the record and qualifications of a typical nominee,” and Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) made similar comments. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Wednesday that it is prematurely to share with how she’ll approach the nomination, stating that “obviously, this really is visiting unfold over weeks and months.”
The pressure on Schumer and the red-state members won’t try to be eminating from the GOP. Liberal groups in Schumer’s home state immediately urged him to “do everything in your capability unite Democrats to prevent this seat empty – provided necessary.”
That energy on the left, which includes powered Democrats to multiple special election victories since Trump took office, offers to increase the party further in November whether it can produce a strong showing with the president’s nominee. That’s particularly true women voters, the majority of whom view Roe protections as inviolable and who could hand Democrats key Senate pickup opportunities in Nevada and Arizona.
“This could be the No. 1 issue I find out about from women: their directly to choose and protect that right,” said Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).
She pursued by heaping pressure on vulnerable Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.): “I’m likely to be wanting to be certain that that each will not be put there with that administration to roll back Roe v. Wade. And anybody from Nevada who’s going to be running for office should really be making time for that, since the voters will.”
Democrats boycotted confirmation hearings during the past year for 3 of Trump’s Cabinet picks as part of an approach to remove most of the stops against nominees, get the job done minority ultimately couldn’t prevent their confirmation. Whether employ similar tactics against Trump’s still-unnamed nominee remains to be seen, for the time being Democratic leaders are more interested in pressuring the GOP to obstruct the confirmation until after November when an election could hand them charge of the Senate.
“We will object. We could make all kinds of noise about this. However can be a choice the Republicans decide to make, to continue a nominee minus the voters possessing a decision as they said voters had a straight to decide [in 2016],” Sen. Patty murray, Democrats’ No. 3 leader, said within an interview.
Democrats can’t forget Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) 2016 blockade of President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, and they are keen to onsite visit GOP hypocrisy. But they privately acknowledge they may have absolutely no way of changing McConnell’s mind.
In fact, it had been only hours after the Supreme Court opening when Republicans began employing it in their own personal fundraising appeals, depending on the fast confirmation of an conservative justice who tips the court’s great help prove their base in November.
“It does one more time heighten the need for a Republican Senate to voters that are reminded again as to the big a direct impact the Senate majority is wearing who serves in the game,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Mo.). “It will persuade folks who wish to realize that majority to carry on to leave out and continue to work hard.”
Mike Braun, Donnelly’s GOP opponent in Indiana, and Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley, who’s challenging McCaskill in November, also raced to push their Democratic foes to aid Trump’s eventual nominee. The onslaught of pressure on the nearly everywhere facing Democrats, as well as little leverage to stop the confirmation, left many with their heads spinning.
Asked whether yet do all he could procedurally to quit Trump’s nominee, Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) – who won GOP plaudits for helping speed the confirmation process for Secretary of State Mike Pompeo – chose his words carefully.
“I need some time and energy to process what exactly is possibly the biggest boost in constitutional jurisprudence in my lifetime,” Coons said.