WASHINGTON — With the debate over the next Supreme Court justice set to intensify after President Donald Trump announces his nominee Monday, Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., said Sunday he believes any of the president's apparent finalists would be able to muster the majority needed to be confirmed by the Unites States Senate.
“I think we can confirm any of the four names being mentioned,” Blunt said. “I think they’re good judges. I think they would be fine justices on the Supreme Court. I do think the president has to think about who would be the easiest to get confirmed here.”
Republicans maintain a razor-thin margin in the Senate, especially if Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., is unable to vote on the nominee due to his battle with cancer. If the White House does not get the support of any Democrats, the GOP would need all of its remaining 50 votes to confirm the nominee.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., implored Democrats to “really take this seriously,” imploring his colleagues to understand “it’s a historic decision. It will decide the future of this court for a generation or more.” Several Democratic senators are facing tough re-election bids in red states where then-candidate Trump handily won in 2016. Three of those Democrats voted to confirm Trump's last nominee, Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Durbin, the minority whip, said that nomination should be instructive for Democrats. “Neil Gorsuch, chosen by the Federalist Society as well, has gone to the bench, is voting in lockstep on the Republican, conservative side, and they want to fill this vacancy to give them an advantage in future rulings,” he said.
Durbin would not commit to pressing forward with a strategy of calling on Senate Republicans to delay the confirmation process until after the midterm elections, but said he personally asked McConnell whether he would follow the precedent he established in 2016 after the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia that February before the election.
McConnell held up the nomination of President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, for nearly a year, citing, at the time, that voters should decide the fate of the Supreme Court in that fall’s election.
“Now [McConnell is] saying we’ve got to hurry through here and get this done before the election. Totally inconsistent,” Durbin said on Sunday. “He’s either wrong the first time or wrong the second time. The net result is he’s trying to play to his political advantage.”