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 SchumerJoe Biden can't lead the charge from his home in Delaware Texas man arrested for allegedly threatening Democrats over coronavirus bill Pelosi not invited by Trump to White House coronavirus relief bill's signing MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday floated that the Senate could force President TrumpDonald John TrumpHealth insurers Cigna, Humana waive out-of-pocket costs for coronavirus treatment Puerto Rico needs more federal help to combat COVID-19 Fauci says April 30 extension is 'a wise and prudent decision' 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 McCainJuan Williams: Biden's promises on women are a big deal Ernst calls for public presidential campaign funds to go to masks, protective equipment President Trump is right — Now's the time for 'all hands on deck' 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 CollinsGOP presses for swift Ratcliffe confirmation to intel post Campaigns pivot toward health awareness as races sidelined by coronavirus Senate eyes quick exit after vote on coronavirus stimulus package MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senators urge Saudi Arabia to leave OPEC Schumer: Senate should 'explore' remote voting if coronavirus sparks lengthy break Turning the virus into a virtue — for the planet 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 McConnellMnuchin emerges as key asset in Trump's war against coronavirus Louisiana Republican: People upset at 'spending porn on pet projects' in latest stimulus bill Coronavirus pushes GOP's Biden-Burisma probe to back burner 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.