Schumer Threatens 'Tooth and Nail' Fight Over Supreme Court Nominee

Susan Jones | November 21, 2016 | 5:26am EST
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Senate Minority Leader-elect Chuck Schumer of N.Y. speaks during an interview with The Associated Press in his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Nov. 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

( - Come January, Republicans will control the House, the Senate and  the presidency, but with only 52 Republicans in the Senate. That will not give them the 60 needed to break a Democrat filibuster.

Appearing on various Sunday talk shows, Schumer was asked if Senate Democrats will filibuster Trump's Supreme Court nominee, whoever it may be.

"I would hope first and foremost that President Trump nominates a mainstream nominee capable of getting bipartisan support," Schumer told "Fox News Sunday."

"If he does, then we'll give it just a very, very thorough vetting, but we won't ipso facto say no. If it's out of the mainstream, yes, we're going to fight that nominee tooth and nail."

Host Chris Wallace asked Schumer if "fight" means filibuster.

"Let me say two things," Schumer responded.

First, he noted that when Democrats controlled the Senate in 2013, they changed the rules so federal judges nominated to serve on lower courts could be confirmed with 51 votes instead of 60 -- the so-called nuclear option.

"We changed the rules, but I argued with (then-Majority Leader) Harry Reid not to change it for Supreme Court, because it should get that bipartisan support. So, it's still 60 votes (for Supreme Court nominees). We didn't change the rules (for Supreme Court justices). If they, you know -- I hope our Republicans won't," Schumer said.

"And second, when our Republican colleagues say, 'Let's do this quickly, without filibuster,' they don't come here with clear, clean hands. After what they did to (Obama Supreme Court nominee) Merrick Garland and held him up for a whole year; a bipartisan nominee who Senator Hatch, conservative Republican, Utah, former head of Judiciary, said would be a very good nominee.

"So, let's -- let's try to get a mainstream nominee, but let's not jump to conclusions, because what the Republicans did, past is sometimes prologue."

Wallace reminded Schumer that in 2013, when Democrats eliminated the filibuster for lower-court judicial nominees, Schumer defended the move by saying, "It's a new world. People demand action. The old rules need to be modified, and that's what we have done today."

Wallace also noted that during the presidential campaign, when it looked like Hillary Clinton would win, Democrats refused to rule out the nuclear option to get Clinton's nominees on the Supreme Court.

"So, if it's fair for you, why isn't it fair for the Republicans?" Wallace asked.

"What I said at the time is, I hope we won't get to it," Schumer responded. "I say the same thing now. I hope we won't get to it."

Appearing on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday, Schumer was asked if he is comfortable filibustering any of Trump's Supreme Court nominees.

"Well, first, I hope that President Trump picks a mainstream candidate," Schumer said. "A mainstream candidate is somebody you may not agree with on every issue but basically believes in precedent..."

Todd asked Schumer if Sen. Ted Cruz would be "too conservative for you."

"Well, I'm not going to get into specific candidate," Schumer responded. " But we hope it would be mainstream. If it is mainstream, you have to remember the last four nominees -- two from President Bush, two from President Obama -- got bipartisan support on the bench.

"If he doesn't nominate a mainstream candidate, we're going to go at him with everything we have -- or her. Go at the candidate with everything we've got, because this is so, so important.

"Now you know, Senator McConnell (Senate majority leader) has said let's not -- let's not use the filibuster. But they don't come with clean hands, having delayed Merrick Garland for a whole year and, furthermore, I was the person when the rules were changed back a few years ago, when Leader Reid changed the rules. I said, let's not do the Supreme Court.

"We should have 60 votes -- which we still do -- because we should get bipartisan support. So I hope both President Trump and Leader McConnell will recognize those facts."

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