Sep 19, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Schumer: "Nothing is off the table" if GOP moves to fill Ginsburg's seat

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer

Sen. Chuck Schumer. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer told congressional Democrats on a conference call Saturday that "nothing is off the table next year" if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his Republican allies move to fill Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg's Supreme Court seat in the coming weeks.

Why it matters: Schumer's comments come amid calls from fellow Democrats to expand the number of judges on the Supreme Court if President Trump and Senate Republicans move to fill the newly empty seat next time the party holds a majority in the Senate.

What he's saying: “Our number one goal must be to communicate the stakes of this Supreme Court fight to the American people," Schumer said, according to a source on the call.

  • “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.”

Context: Trump said Saturday morning he believes Republicans have an "obligation" to fill the seat "without delay," tweeting: "We were put in this position of power and importance to make decisions for the people who so proudly elected us, the most important of which has long been considered to be the selection of United States Supreme Court Justices."

  • McConnell noted Friday that Trump's nominee will receive a confirmation vote before the election, despite precedent set by Senate Republicans in 2016 not to consider nominees during an election year.
  • Republicans stonewalled President Obama's nomination of Merrick Garland after Justice Antonin Scalia's death, claiming voters should decide in the election who is appointed to the court.

The big picture: "Mitch McConnell set the precedent," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote in a tweet Friday. "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."

  • "If Sen. McConnell and [Senate Republicans] were to force through a nominee during the lame duck session—before a new Senate and President can take office—then the incoming Senate should immediately move to expand the Supreme Court," Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-N.Y.) said in a tweet Saturday..
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