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 SchumerGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats National emergency declaration — a legal fight Trump is likely to win House Judiciary Dems seek answers over Trump's national emergency declaration 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 HeitkampOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary On The Money: Shutdown Day 27 | Trump fires back at Pelosi by canceling her foreign travel | Dems blast 'petty' move | Trump also cancels delegation to Davos | House votes to disapprove of Trump lifting Russia sanction MORE (N.D.), Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Energy: Trump taps ex-oil lobbyist Bernhardt to lead Interior | Bernhardt slams Obama officials for agency's ethics issues | Head of major green group steps down Trump picks ex-oil lobbyist David Bernhardt for Interior secretary EPA's Wheeler faces grilling over rule rollbacks MORE (Ind.) and Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinSenate confirms Trump pick William Barr as new attorney general GOP wants to pit Ocasio-Cortez against Democrats in the Senate Senate poised to confirm Trump’s attorney general pick 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 TrumpMcCabe says he was fired because he 'opened a case against' Trump McCabe: Trump said 'I don't care, I believe Putin' when confronted with US intel on North Korea McCabe: Trump talked to me about his election victory during 'bizarre' job interview 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 PortmanGOP Green New Deal stunt is a great deal for Democrats Steel lobby's PR blitz can't paper over damaging effects of tariffs Trade official warns senators of obstacles to quick China deal 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.