Yesterday, President Trump said he will announce his Supreme Court justice pick tonight at 8 PM. As expected, the Democrats announced they would do everything to halt the nominee. For example, Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon said that the vacancy was “stolen” and pledged that the Democrats will do “everything in our power to stop” to nomination. Merkley’s call echoed sentiments from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, who said he would “fight tooth and nail” if Trump’s nominee is not “mainstream.”
However, it is entirely possible that the Democrats could let this nominee go to save face. CNN reported the following:
Democrats privately discussed their tactics during a closed-door retreat in West Virginia last week. And a number of Democrats are trying to persuade liberal firebrands to essentially let Republicans confirm Trump’s pick after a vigorous confirmation process — since Trump is likely to name a conservative to replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
The reason for the tactic: Republicans are considering gutting the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees if Democrats stay largely united and block Trump’s first pick. By employing the so-called “nuclear option,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could move to reduce the threshold for clearing a filibuster from 60 votes to 51 votes.
The “nuclear option” refers to the Senate rule that would kill filibusters for judicial nominees from 60 senate votes to a simple majority of 51. As of now, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell expressed his desire not to invoke the nuclear option in the event the Democrats choose to filibuster on the nominee. However, that could change, particularly with Trump encouraging Republicans to consider it.
If the nuclear option is on the table, it could dramatically alter the Democrats’ plan to stonewall a possible replacement of a liberal justice during Trump’s presidency. The Democrats’ meeting in West Virginia recognized that the consequences of filibustering Scalia’s replacement would likely ensure that the court remains conservative for at least a generation.
It remains to be seen if the Democrats will hold to their threats of doing “everything” in their power to stop Trump. Their tactics will likely hinge on who Trump nominates tonight.
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