Schumer: Senate could force Trump to nominate moderate Supreme Court pick

Schumer: Senate could force Trump to nominate moderate Supreme Court pick
© Greg Nash

Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNo agreement on budget caps in sight ahead of Memorial Day recess Ex-White House photographer roasts Trump: 'This is what a cover up looked like' under Obama Pelosi: Trump 'is engaged in a cover-up' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday floated that the Senate could force President TrumpDonald John TrumpPapadopoulos on AG's new powers: 'Trump is now on the offense' Pelosi uses Trump to her advantage Mike Pence delivers West Point commencement address MORE to name a moderate to the Supreme Court — if they reject his "extreme" nominee first. 

"If the Senate rejects an extreme candidate, it would present President Trump the opportunity to instead select a moderate, consensus nominee," Schumer wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

With Republicans holding a slim 51-49 majority, Democrats don't have the ability to block whoever Trump nominates to fill the vacancy being created by Justice Anthony Kennedy's decision to retire at the end of the month. 

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But because Republicans have a "razor-thin" majority, Schumer argues, picking up one or two Republican senators to vote against Trump's pick "will make the difference between the confirmation and rejection of an ideological nominee."

"While the number of Democrats in the Senate is not a majority, the number of senators who believe in protections for those with pre-existing conditions and women’s reproductive rights is a majority of the Senate. Given this vacancy, the best way to defend those rights is for a bipartisan majority in the Senate to lock arms and reject a Supreme Court nominee who would overturn them," Schumer wrote in the Times op-ed. 

With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainClimate change is a GOP issue, too It's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Meghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' MORE (R-Ariz.) absent as he undergoes treatment for brain cancer, the GOP majority is effectively capped at 50 votes in the Senate. That means Democrats would only need to win over one GOP vote to have a majority. If McCain were to return, they would need to win over two Republicans to sink a Trump nominee. 

But every GOP senator voted for Trump's first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.

GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump says no legislation until Dems end probes Collins offering bill to boost battery research as GOP pushes energy 'innovation' Biden says Congress must move to protect abortion rights MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiMurkowski celebrates birthday with electric scooter ride Overnight Energy: Park Service plans to pay full-time staff through entrance fees | Oil companies join blitz for carbon tax | Interior chief takes heat for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change Democrats grill Trump Interior chief for saying he hasn't 'lost sleep' over climate change MORE (Alaska) are currently viewed as two potential swing votes, because of the implications for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established the right to abortion nationwide. Kennedy was the fifth justice in a 1992 decision that reaffirmed that ruling.

Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court pick on July 9, the same day senators return from a weeklong recess. 

Schumer added in his op-ed that Kennedy's retirement has sparked "the most important vacancy" on the court in his lifetime.

Democrats and their allied outside groups have seized on the abortion case, as well as potential legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, as they try to drum up momentum ahead of the looming nominations fight. 

"Two issues of similar and profound consequence, which could well defeat a nominee who opposes them, are the fate of affordable health care and a woman’s freedom to make the most sensitive medical decisions about her body," Schumer wrote

He added that if voters don't want a justice who will target both of those issues "tell your Senators they should not vote for a candidate from Mr. Trump’s preordained list."

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump orders more troops to Mideast amid Iran tensions What if 2020 election is disputed? Immigration bills move forward amid political upheaval MORE (R-Ky.) said last week that the upper chamber will move quickly to confirm a Trump nominee.

Trump was initially expected to select his next Supreme Court nominee from a list of 25 names.

But Collins said over the weekend that the White House had expanded its search and added "a few additional, potential nominees ... to that list."

Both Collins and Murkowski had publicly suggested late last week that the White House should broaden its search.