A threat to wage a filibuster against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch threatens U.S. Senate tradition.
Sen. Deb Fischer, a Republican, has heard the threat from Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York to filibuster President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
“It’s been the tradition in the United States Senate not to filibuster nominations for the Supreme Court,” Fischer tells reporters during a conference call.
Sen. Schumer announced he will vote against Gorsuch during a speech from the Senate floor. Schumer asked other Democrats to join him to block an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch, perhaps not an unexpected move; yet unprecedented.
It would take 60 votes to end a filibuster and force a vote. Republicans have only 52 seats in the Senate.
Fischer dismisses comparisons of Schumer’s threat to action, or inaction, taken by Senate Republicans last year when they ignored President Barack Obama’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. Republicans refused to take up Garland’s nomination, declaring they would wait until after the presidential election. Fischer counters that prominent Democrats had declared they would not consider any Supreme Court nominee made by President George W. Bush if a vacancy occurred in the last year-and-a-half of his presidency.
The Supreme Court has had a vacancy for more than a year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
Fischer points out even during very contentious nomination fights in the past, opponents never resorted to a filibuster. Justice Clarence Thomas won confirmation on a narrow 52-48 vote after an emotional, highly tense confirmation process in October of 1991. Though prominent Democrats opposed the nominee of President George H.W. Bush, they allowed an up-and-down vote.
“To not confirm a man who is imminently qualified to be on the court is that saying that the Democrats won’t confirm any nominee of President Trump?” Fischer asks. “I would hope we haven’t come to that point.”
AUDIO: Brent Martin reports [:50]