WASHINGTON U.S. President Donald Trump would
favor Senate Republicans changing voting rules to allow a simple
majority of the Senate to approve his nominee for the U.S.
Supreme Court if Democrats block his choice, he said in an
interview airing on Thursday.
“I would. We have obstructionists,” Trump told Fox News,
referring to possible use of the so-called nuclear option that
would overturn Senate rules requiring 60 votes to overcome a
procedural hurdle, or filibuster, for Supreme Court nominees.
There are currently 52 Republican senators in the 100-seat
Trump plans next week to announce his choice to fill the
vacancy caused by the death of conservative Justice Antonin
Scalia in February 2016. His nominee could restore the
decades-long conservative majority on the court.
Democrats are seething over the Republican-led Senate’s
refusal last year to consider Democratic President Barack
Obama’s nomination of appeals court Judge Merrick Garland for
the lifetime post, an action with little precedent in U.S.
Trump told Fox News anchor Sean Hannity that he had made his
choice. “I have made my decision pretty much in my mind, yes.
That’s subject to change at the last moment.”
Among the front-runners are three conservative jurists: Neil
Gorsuch, a judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of
Appeals; Thomas Hardiman, who serves on the Philadelphia-based
3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; and William Pryor, on the
Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
On Tuesday, Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said he
told Trump that Democrats would fight any nominee they consider
to be outside the mainstream.
Assuming all 52 Senate Republicans back Trump’s nominee,
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would either need to lure
eight Democrats to his side or change the rules and ban the
filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.
Despite the nuclear option threat, Nan Aron, president of
the liberal Alliance for Justice, which tracks judicial
nominations, said in an email to Reuters that a Democratic
filibuster “would still be far better than what Republicans did
to Merrick Garland.”
More than three years ago, Democrats used their
then-majority in the Senate to ban filibusters against
presidential nominees other than for the Supreme Court. The move
came after Republicans blocked several key Obama nominees.
Vice President Mike Pence told Republican lawmakers on
Thursday that Trump would nominate a “strict constructionist” to
the court, referring to the literal interpretation of the U.S.
Constitution’s text without regard to changes in American
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