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Schumer demands ‘mainstream’ Supreme Court nominee

Senator Chuck Schumer, D-NY speaks during the 58th Presidential Inauguration at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

January 22, 2017 | by Arthur Seaton

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said Sunday he will absolutely block President Trump’s pick for the vacant Supreme Court seat if the nominee is not “mainstream” enough. Schumer says that he’s willing to block any nominee Democrats don’t think is progressive enough for the next four years.

“If the nominee is not bipartisan and mainstream, we absolutely will keep the seat open,” Schumer told CNN’s Jake Tapper. Democrats are demanding a nominee who shares their liberal world view on matters such as abortion and gay marriage, all of which are odds with conservative ideals.

Schumer, who was booed during a speech at Trump’s inauguration for seeming to deliberately delay the swearing in by giving a rambling speech, had previously criticized his Republican colleagues for blocking former President Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, last year.

But there is precedent.

While George W. Bush still had 18 months left in his presidency, Schumer advocated almost the exact same approach. During a speech at a convention of the American Constitution Society in July 2007, Schumer said if any new Supreme Court vacancies opened up, Democrats should not allow Bush the chance to fill it “except in extraordinary circumstances.”

“We should reverse the presumption of confirmation,” Schumer said. “The Supreme Court is dangerously out of balance. We cannot afford to see Justice Stevens replaced by another Roberts, or Justice Ginsburg by another Alito.” During the same speech, Schumer lamented that he hadn’t managed to block Bush’s prior Supreme Court nominations.

In 1992, under then-Senate Majority Leader George J. Mitchell, D-Maine, the Democrat majority blocked President George H.W. Bush’s nominees for federal judgeship’s, including now Chief Justice John Roberts. Democrats delayed nominees “to preserve the vacancies for Gov. Bill Clinton to fill if he is elected president.”

Trump has said he plans to announce his pick to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia in the next two weeks. He released a short list of potential nominees last summer, one of whom he met with shortly before entering office.