Progressive groups hit Schumer on efforts to block Kavanaugh nomination

Progressive groups hit Schumer on efforts to block Kavanaugh nomination
© Anna Moneymaker

A coalition of progressive outside groups is stepping up criticism of Senate Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerTrump defends 'crime buster' Giuliani amid reported probe Louisiana voters head to the polls in governor's race as Trump urges GOP support Trump urges Louisiana voters to back GOP in governor's race then 'enjoy the game' MORE's handling of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

Thirteen progressive groups sent a letter to Schumer on Wednesday panning the New York Democrat's Supreme Court strategy as "failing."

"Your job as Senate Democratic leader is to lead your caucus in complete opposition to Trump's attempted Supreme Court takeover and to defend everyone threatened by a Trump Supreme Court," the groups said.

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They added that the Supreme Court is "on the line," and Schumer is "failing us."

Progressive anger over Schumer's handling of Kavanaugh's nomination has been building for weeks over concerns that he won't pressure the Democratic caucus to unite early in opposition.

"The Democratic Party's progressive base expects nothing less than all-out resistance to Trump's dangerous agenda," the groups wrote in Wednesday's letter. "They know that anything less than 49 Democratic votes against Kavanaugh would be a massive failure of your leadership." 

They added that, "unbelievably, nearly two dozen Democrats have still not come out against Kavanaugh. ... That is not the leadership we need."

The groups argued that Schumer appeared willing to "sacrifice the Supreme Court" in an effort to try to hold onto Democratic seats in the November election, where the party faces a difficult map. Kavanaugh, if confirmed, is expected to tilt the court to the right for decades by giving conservatives a fifth vote.

"[It] is not only strategically and morally wrong, it will fail. It is wrong to assume that a no vote on Kavanaugh puts red-state Democrats in electoral peril or somehow protects them from Republican attacks," they wrote.

Three Democrats, Sens. Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Biden steadies in third debate as top tier remains the same Trump wins 60 percent approval in rural areas of key states Pence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyWatchdog accuses pro-Kavanaugh group of sending illegal robotexts in 2018 Lobbying world Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (Ind.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinThe Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by USAA — Ex-Ukraine ambassador testifies Trump pushed for her ouster GOP requests update on criminal referrals prompted by 2018 Kavanaugh probe Fallout from Kavanaugh confirmation felt in Washington one year later MORE (W.Va.), voted for Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee. They are each up for reelection in states easily won by Trump.

But Schumer and other Democratic senators have dismissed the notion that he could effectively pressure vulnerable incumbents into opposing a Supreme Court nominee. Schumer told The Washington Post in July that "pressure is not how this place works."

Credo, Democracy for America, Indivisible, UltraViolet, 350.org, Color Of Change, DailyKos, Demand Progress, Friends of the Earth, Justice Democrats, Social Security Works, #VOTEPROCHOICE and Women's March signed onto Wednesday's letter.

Kavanaugh's confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee began Tuesday, with President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren defends, Buttigieg attacks in debate that shrank the field Five takeaways from the Democratic debate in Ohio Democrats debate in Ohio: Who came out on top? MORE's second Supreme Court nominee in two years being introduced to lawmakers by top Republicans including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Ohio Sen. Rob PortmanRobert (Rob) Jones PortmanTrump's GOP impeachment firewall holds strong 10 top Republicans who continue to deny the undeniable GOP braces for impeachment brawl MORE (R).

Senate Democrats and dozens of protesters repeatedly interrupted the first day of the hearing, sparking frustration from Republicans and chaos within the committee room.

Democrats, who are unlikely to block the confirmation in the GOP-held Senate, set the pace for the hearing by sparring, cajoling and pleading with Republicans to delay the hearing or reject Kavanaugh outright.

--John Bowden contributed to this report, which was updated at 7:57 a.m.