“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. history.
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
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
(Reporting by Jeff Mason and Eric Walsh in Washington and Andrew
Chung in New York; Editing by Peter Cooney and Leslie Adler)
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