Schumer: ‘Nothing is off the table’ if GOP moves forward with Ginsburg replacement
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) told Democrats on Saturday that “nothing is off the table” if Republicans move forward this year with filling the Supreme Court vacancy created by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death.
“Let me be clear: If Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year. Nothing is off the table,” Schumer told the Senate Democratic caucus, according to a source on the call.
The rare Saturday conference call comes as Senate Democrats are trying to strategize ahead of a looming election-year Supreme Court fight sparked by Ginsburg’s death, which gives President Trump an opening to put a third justice on the court.
Schumer started the call with a moment of silence for Ginsburg, according to the source, and stressed the importance of talking about the “stakes” of the Supreme Court fight.
“Everything Americans value is at stake. Health care, protections for preexisting conditions, women’s rights, gay rights, workers’ rights, labor rights, voting rights, civil rights, climate change and so much else is at risk,” Schumer said during the call, according to the source.
Trump is expected to move quickly to nominate someone to the seat, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) vowing that whomever the president picks will get a vote. McConnell has not specified if he will try to move a nominee before the election or during the end-of-the-year session.
The prospect that Republicans could try to fill the seat has energized progressive groups — with one planning to spend $10 million on the fight — and given a shot of momentum to talk among Democrats of nixing the legislative filibuster next year if they win the majority in November and expanding the Supreme Court.
“Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) tweeted.
Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.), the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, added that if McConnell tries to confirm Trump’s nominee during the end-of-year lame-duck session, “then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court.”
“Filling the SCOTUS vacancy during a lame duck session, after the American people have voted for new leadership, is undemocratic and a clear violation of the public trust in elected officials. Congress would have to act and expanding the court would be the right place to start,” Nadler added.
Talk of nixing the filibuster has gained traction with outside groups and a growing number of Democratic senators, as the party feels increasingly bullish about its ability to win the majority and the prospect that Democratic nominee Joe Biden will win the White House.
If Democrats nix the 60-vote legislative filibuster, progressives have been pushing for reforms to the Supreme Court, including increasing the number of justices, an idea McConnell has used to warn about the pitfalls of a unified Democratic government.
‘The far left is salivating over the prospect of killing the filibuster in order to pack the Supreme Court, pack the Senate with new states, tilt the playing field permanently so they can never lose power again,” McConnell said from the Senate floor this week.
Schumer has not ruled out trying to get rid of the filibuster if Democrats are able to win the majority. Asked about the filibuster during a radio interview in August, Schumer said Democrats would “do what it takes” to enact their agenda if they win the Senate and Biden wins the White House.
“What we are saying, what I am saying, is … we have a moral imperative to the people of America to get a whole lot done if we get the majority, which God willing we will, and keep it in the House, and Biden becomes president, and nothing is off the table,” Schumer said in August.