Dem senator: Party will filibuster Trump Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocrats lay into Trump's pick of Bolton for national security adviser Bill to bolster gun background checks gains enough support to break filibuster Democrats remain skeptical of Trump’s rebuilding plan MORE (D-Ore.) on Monday predicted that Democrats would launch a filibuster against whoever President TrumpDonald John TrumpPoll: Both parties need to do more on drug prices Senate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump White House: Trump will delay steel tariffs for EU, six countries MORE picks for the Supreme Court. 

“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley told Politico. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this. ... I will definitely object to a simple majority.” 

Though any senator can require a 60-vote threshold for a Supreme Court nominee, filibusters against picks for the top court remain rare. Democrats last tried to use the filibuster to block Justice Samuel Alito under President George W. Bush's administration and failed. 

But Merkley's remarks reflect the heated tensions around the judicial branch ahead of Trump's announcement on Tuesday. Democrats are still quick to point out that Republicans refused to give Merrick Garland, President Obama's pick to replace conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, a hearing or a vote. 

Republicans have also been gearing up for the looming court battle, urging Democrats to treat Trump's first nominee the same way as Supreme Court picks under President Obama's first term. 

“Under [President Bill] Clinton, [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and [Stephen] Breyer, no filibuster, no filibuster. In other words, no one required us to get 60 votes,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate approves .3 trillion spending bill, sending to Trump GOP senator threatened to hold up bill over provision to honor late political rival: report Paul: Shutting down government not my goal MORE (R-Ky.) told reporters last week. “Under Obama, [Sonia] Sotomayor and [Elena] Kagan, no filibusters. That's apples and apples. First term, new president, Supreme Court vacancy.”

He added, “What we hope would be that our Democratic friends will treat President Trump's nominees in the same way that we treated Clinton and Obama.”

Trump said Monday that he would announce his pick to replace Scalia Tuesday night.

It’s not clear if Democrats would be able to support a filibuster on any Trump pick.

A number of Democrats in the Senate represent red states that voted for Trump — and many of them are up for reelection next year.

The Senate Leadership Fund (SLF), which has ties to McConnell, quickly sent out emails questioning whether the red-state Democrats would back Merkley’s filibuster.

Of Sen. Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinCoal miners' union to endorse Manchin Washington VIPs gather to celebrate Mark Penn's new book Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps MORE (D-W.Va.), the group said: “Will he stand with the people of his state who overwhelmingly voted for Donald Trump to be able to pick a Supreme Court nominee? Or will he stand with [Sens.] Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren battles Carson: Housing discrimination 'the scandal that should get you fired' Overnight Regulation: Omnibus includes deal on tip-pooling rule | Groups sue over rules for organic livestock | AT&T, DOJ make opening arguments in merger trial Warren presses Mulvaney, Azar on tip pooling MORE [Mass.], Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersCongress to require FEC report on foreign money in elections DCCC adds first black candidates to list of top candidates Hillary Clinton’s sorry apology is why she’s no champion for women MORE [Vt.], and the rest of the Democratic caucus that only cares about its far left base of permanent protesters?”

The SLF sent out similar releases for Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp GOP Senate candidate slams McCaskill over Clinton ties Dems meddle against Illinois governor ahead of GOP primary MORE (Mo.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyLawmakers introduce bipartisan bill to speed up infrastructure permitting 2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Koch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampKoch-backed group launches six-figure ad buy against Heitkamp Overnight Defense: Senate sides with Trump on military role in Yemen | Dem vets push for new war authorization on Iraq anniversary | General says time isn't 'right' for space corps Senate sides with Trump on providing Saudi military support MORE (N.D.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) Tester2020 Dems compete for top campaign operatives Senate GOP: We will grow our majority in midterms Senate passes bipartisan bill to roll back Dodd-Frank MORE (Mont.), who are each up for reelection in states carried by Trump. 

Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate and would need eight Democrats to vote with them to break a filibuster.

The GOP also could opt for the “nuclear option” by changing Senate rules to get rid of the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees. McConnell has repeatedly signaled he does not want to take that step, most recently in an interview with The Hill on Friday.

The National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) also sent out a release questioning if “eight is enough,” playing off Democrats slogan last year that the Supreme Court needed nine justices. 

“National Democrats’ lurch to the left is quickly becoming a problem for Senate Democrats up for reelection in red states,” said NRSC spokesman Bob Salera. “It will be telling whether Senate Democrats honor the will of voters and listen to their own ‘We need nine’ rhetoric or side with Keith Ellison and the far left, and adopt a ‘take our ball and go home’ strategy with the Supreme Court.”                                               

Senate Democratic leadership hasn't publicly signed on to Merkley's push, but Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerAmtrak to rename Rochester station after Louise Slaughter Conscience protections for health-care providers should be standard Pension committee must deliver on retirement promise MORE (D-N.Y.) has pledged to fight “tooth and nail” if Trump's nominee isn't “mainstream.”

“If the nominee is not bipartisan and mainstream, we absolutely will keep the seat open,” Schumer told CNN’s “State of the Union” earlier this month.