Mitch McConnell and Chuck Schumer were on the talk shows Sunday. Naturally the subject of the impending Supreme Court confirmation hearings came up. Schumer lay down a marker that it will be difficult to retreat from. McConnell, well not so much.
First, Chuck Schumer.
TAPPER: Let’s turn to the Supreme Court. You recently said that you are absolutely willing to keep open that ninth seat, the Scalia seat, on the court. Take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: It’s hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support. So, you’re right.
RACHEL MADDOW, HOST, “THE RACHEL MADDOW SHOW”: And so you would do your best to hold the seat open?
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SCHUMER: Yes, Jake.
TAPPER: You would do your best to hold the seat open?
SCHUMER: If the nominee…
TAPPER: Here’s the question. Yes.
SCHUMER: Let me…
TAPPER: Go ahead. Go ahead.
SCHUMER: Let me just say this.
What I said on that show was,if the nominee is out of the mainstream, we will do our best to keep the seat open.
Let’s remember that, of the last four Supreme Court nominees, two nominated by a Republican president, two by a Democrat, they had bipartisan support.
What I said — you didn’t show it on the air there — is, if the nominee is not bipartisan and mainstream, we absolutely would keep the seat open. I’m hopeful that maybe President Trump would nominate someone who is mainstream and who could get bipartisan support. We shall see.
But, if they don’t, yes, we will fight it tooth-and-nail, as long as we have to.
TAPPER: As you know, for the last four months, President Trump has had a list of 21 potential Supreme Court picks. He worked with the Federalist Society on the list. He says they are all conservative judges.
Are you saying that not one of the judges on that list of 21 is in the mainstream?
SCHUMER: I haven’t studied the records of those 21. I’m not going to comment on a potential nominee. I’m going to wait to see who the president nominates.
My only plea to him, hope, nominate a mainstream person, not someone way out of the mainstream.
Next Mitch McConnell.
WALLACE: Finally, President Trump says he wants to name a Supreme Court nominee. He’s talked about doing it within two weeks. And Senator Schumer has said that they’re going to block anyone that they don’t like, that they feel is outside the mainstream.
As Senate rules now stand, because the — the nuclear option was — was extended, it — on a partial level in 2013 by the Democrats, you can confirm lower court judges with just 51 votes.
WALLACE: A simple majority, not a — a supermajority of 60 votes. If the Democrats block a Supreme Court nominee, are you going to extend the nuclear option to Supreme Court nominees because now they still need 60 votes?
MCCONNELL: Well, let me just say, I’m confident we’ll get a Supreme Court nominees confirmed. I expect an outstanding nominee sometime soon. I think it’s noteworthy to look at how the Republican minority handled Bill Clinton the first — in his first administration. Both — both of his first two nominees, Ginsburg and Breyer, no filibuster. Obama, in his first term, to go, no filibuster. We think our nominee ought to be treated the same way. If he is not treated that way, then, under the current Senate rule, we would have to get cloture. That is, we’d have to get 60 votes. We had to do that when the Democrats objecting to Justice Alito 10 years ago, but cloture was invoked. Sorry for the long answer. I think the short answer is, the nominee will be confirmed.
WALLACE: But would you consider extending the nuclear option and saying, even for Supreme Court justices, just a simple majority?
MCCONNELL: The nominee will be confirmed.
WALLACE: One thing I’ve learned with you, Senator McConnell, is once you’ve given an answer, you’re going to stick with that.
There you have it. One guy says he’s willing to fight until the last dog is dead to keep a conservative off the bench. The other guy trusts this guy to treat our nominee fairly.