Democrats Count on Public Pressure as Their ‘Best Weapon’ in Supreme Court Fight

From the steps of the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats unleashed their latest messaging barrage in the battle over whether President Obama should fill the open seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., blasted Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, after the chairman of the Judiciary Committee accused Democrats earlier Thursday of throwing “childish tantrums.”

Sounding incredulous, Reid responded to the characterization by telling Grassley and Senate Republicans to “do your job, that’s all we ask.”

“A childish tantrum?” Reid said of Grassley’s crack. “When we’re asking him to do his job? He’s chairman of the committee. He should hold committee hearings [and] report people out.”

The Judiciary Committee scrutinizes presidential nominees for federal judgeships, including the Supreme Court, then votes on whether they move on to a vote on the Senate floor.

Senate Republicans continue a regular drumbeat that Scalia’s seat should remain open for the next president to fill after the November election. On Tuesday, the 10 other Republicans on the Judiciary Committee joined Grassley in announcing they won’t hold any hearings for an eventual nominee.

Democrats counter that Republicans are abandoning their constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on a president’s judicial nominees. They complain Republicans are engaging in partisan obstructionism encouraged by “the hard right.”

But Republicans found plenty of ammunition in  Democrats’ past rhetoric to fire back with.

In July 2007, when President George W. Bush had 18 months left in his second term, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., urged the Democrat majority in the Senate to block Bush’s appointment of any more judges.

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