Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer lamented a previous rule change by Senate Democrats which allows a president’s Cabinet picks to be approved by a simple majority. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Bridget Bowman
Posted Jan 3, 2017 – 10:13 PM

  • Minority leader says Democrats will push for ‘mainstream’ nominee

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer is preparing to block President-elect Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee if he or she is not in the “mainstream.”

“It’s hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support,” the New York Democrat told MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow Tuesday night.

Asked if he would do his best to hold the seat open, Schumer responded, “Absolutely.”

The exchange came after Maddow pointed out that any high court nominee might be unacceptable to Democrats, citing Senate Republicans’ stonewalling of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. She also mentioned Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley’s accusation that Republicans stole a seat on the Supreme Court.

Schumer said Democrats are going to push for a “mainstream” nominee. He noted that Supreme Court nominees are subject to a filibuster, meaning 60 votes are necessary to end debate on the nomination. Republicans hold 52 seats in the new Congress, meaning some Democrats would have to back Trump’s pick for the nomination to move forward.

“If they don’t appoint someone who’s really good, we’re going to oppose him tooth and nail,” the minority leader said. “They won’t have 60 votes to put in an out-of-the-mainstream nominee.”

Schumer said Republicans may be faced with a choice to change Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. But he said it would be “very hard” for Republicans to do so given that some GOP senators do not want to alter the chamber’s rules.

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