Dem senator: Party will filibuster Trump Supreme Court nominee

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyBipartisan congressional commission urges IOC to postpone, relocate Beijing Games Lawmakers urge Biden to make 'bold decisions' in nuclear review This week: Senate faces infrastructure squeeze MORE (D-Ore.) on Monday predicted that Democrats would launch a filibuster against whoever President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump hails Arizona Senate for audit at Phoenix rally, slams governor Arkansas governor says it's 'disappointing' vaccinations have become 'political' Watch live: Trump attends rally in Phoenix 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. 

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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 McConnellHouse Democrats grow frustrated as they feel ignored by Senate Democrats question GOP shift on vaccines Has Trump beaten the system? 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 ManchinJoe ManchinWhy Biden's Interior Department isn't shutting down oil and gas Overnight Energy: Senate panel advances controversial public lands nominee | Nevada Democrat introduces bill requiring feds to develop fire management plan | NJ requiring public water systems to replace lead pipes in 10 years Transit funding, broadband holding up infrastructure deal 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 WarrenKavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Biden signals tough stance on tech with antitrust picks Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary MORE [Mass.], Bernie SandersBernie SandersPoll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Overnight Defense: US launches another airstrike in Somalia | Amendment to expand Pentagon recusal period added to NDAA | No. 2 State Dept. official to lead nuclear talks with Russia US launches second Somalia strike in week 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 McCaskillGiuliani to stump for Greitens in Missouri McCaskill shares new July 4 family tradition: Watching Capitol riot video Joe Manchin's secret MORE (Mo.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellySupreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Republicans fret over divisive candidates Everybody wants Joe Manchin MORE (Ind.), Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampJoe Manchin's secret Supreme Court battle could wreak havoc with Biden's 2020 agenda Effective and profitable climate solutions are within the nation's farms and forests MORE (N.D.) and Jon TesterJonathan (Jon) TesterBipartisan group says it's still on track after setback on Senate floor GOP blocks infrastructure debate as negotiators near deal GOP negotiators say they'll vote to start infrastructure debate next week 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 SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel 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.