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 SchumerBarr to testify before House Judiciary panel Graham won't call Barr to testify over Roger Stone sentencing recommendation Roger Stone witness alleges Trump targeted prosecutors in 'vile smear job' MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday floated that the Senate could force President TrumpDonald John TrumpCensus Bureau spends millions on ad campaign to mitigate fears on excluded citizenship question Bloomberg campaign: Primary is two-way race with Sanders Democratic senator meets with Iranian foreign minister 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 McCainEleventh Democratic presidential debate to be held in Phoenix Moderate Democrats now in a race against the clock Biden on Graham's push for investigation: 'I don't know what happened' to him 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 CollinsErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Toward 'Super Tuesday' — momentum, money and delegates MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDemocrats worried about Trump's growing strength The Hill's Morning Report — AG Barr, GOP senators try to rein Trump in Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' 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 McConnellErnst endorses bipartisan Grassley-Wyden bill to lower drug prices Senate braces for fight over impeachment whistleblower testimony Trump declares war on hardworking Americans with new budget request 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.