Sanders: Gorsuch needs 60 votes to pass the Senate

Sanders: Gorsuch needs 60 votes to pass the Senate
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersDo progressives prefer Trump to compromise? Texas House Republican tests positive for coronavirus in latest breakthrough case In defense of share buybacks MORE (I-Vt.) on Sunday said that President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch, should not win confirmation unless he can muster 60 votes.

“This is a major, major nomination. It should require 60 votes and a very serious debate,” Sanders said on CNN’s “State of the Union," echoing the statements of Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerObama says US 'desperately needs' Biden legislation ahead of key votes Congress shows signs of movement on stalled Biden agenda Schumer gets shoutout, standing ovation from crowd at Tony Awards MORE (D-N.Y.) and other Democratic colleagues.

“Obama’s nominations required 60 votes. So should Trump’s,” Sanders added.

“What this Supreme Court decision is about is whether or not we continue Citizens United and allow billionaires to buy elections. It’s whether or not we continue Roe v. Wade and allow a woman to control her own body,” he argued.

The Senate confirmed President Obama’s two nominees to the court, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, with 68 votes and 63 votes, respectively, but Republicans did not filibuster either nominee and procedural votes to end dilatory debate were not needed.

Senate majority leaders have only had to file cloture votes to overcome filibusters on Supreme Court nominees only four times in history, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

The last time was in 2006 when Democrats filibustered President George W. Bush’s nominee, Samuel Alito. The Senate later voted 72 to 25 to advance him to a final confirmation vote.

CNN host Jake Tapper asked Sanders whether he would support Democratic colleague Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Senate Finance chair backs budget action on fossil fuel subsidies Top Democrat says he'll push to address fossil fuel tax breaks in spending bill Democrats revive filibuster fight over voting rights bill MORE (Ore.), who wrote in a New York Times op-ed that Gorsuch needs 60 votes.

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“Absolutely,” Sanders replied.

Schumer has also called for a 60-vote threshold for Gorsuch.

“On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support should be a prerequisite, it should be essential,” he said.

Tapper than asked Sanders about his comments during the Democratic presidential primary that the Supreme Court “has nine members, not eight — we need that ninth member.”

A seat on the court has been vacant since February 2015 because of Justice Antonin Scalia’s death, resulting in several 4-4 deadlocks.

Sanders said his statements are consistent, explaining that he is not advocating for keeping the seat vacant, just that whoever replaces Scalia must win supermajority support in the Senate.

“If 60 people vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch, he will become the next” justice, Sanders said.

--This report was updated at 12:31 p.m.