WASHINGTON ― White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said he found it quite “sad” that Senate Democrats are preparing to filibuster President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, without even considering his or her qualifications.
“He met with a bunch of Senate Democrats to talk about the qualities they want in a judge. And before they’ve even heard who this individual is, you’ve got some of them saying, ‘Absolutely no.’ That just shows you that it’s all about politics. It’s not about qualification,” Spicer told reporters in his daily briefing Monday.
“The president has a right to have his nominees taken up,” he added. “And so for them the default used to be, ‘unless qualified, confirmed.’ And it is now going to, ‘always no.’ I think that’s a pretty sad message.”
Senate Democrats are under heavy pressure from their base to oppose not just Trump’s Supreme Court pick ― which is set to be announced Tuesday night ― but the rest of his nominees up for confirmation.
On Monday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said he and the rest of his caucus will filibuster Trump’s nominee, meaning he or she will not be able to get confirmed without 60 votes ― which requires a few Democrats joining the GOP caucus.
Spicer’s outrage at what Democrats may do rings hollow since the spot Trump is filling ― the seat of the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia ― actually became vacant during the presidency of Barack Obama.
Republicans, however, announced that they would oppose any nominee Obama put forward, regardless of qualifications, because they wanted to wait for the next president to take office and choose the person.
“The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in February. “Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President.”
Consequently, Merrick Garland, the chief judge of the D.C. Circuit, never even received a hearing from the Senate Judiciary Committee ― even though he was widely regarded as a moderate and had been praised in the past by Republicans.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has not committed to filibustering Trump’s Supreme Court nominee but said Democrats will oppose anyone he chooses if he or she is not in the “mainstream.”
In an interview with The Huffington Post in January, Schumer pointed to abortion and labor rights as two key areas where he will be looking at a nominee.
“They have to follow the law,” he said. “For instance, Roe v. Wade has been the law for a long time. If these people want to just repeal and rip out Roe v. Wade ― you have to look at the whole picture. I’m not going to have a litmus test. But that would be an indication.”
Schumer also pointed to Lochner v. New York, a controversial 1905 case that barred the states from stepping in and regulating business practices, such as a ceiling on how long employees could work each day.
“If they want to go back to the days of Lochner, when states couldn’t regulate businesses and protect employees, that would be something out of the mainstream,” he added. “There are lots of different criteria, but you know it when you see it.”
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