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Schumer: Senate could force Trump to nominate moderate Supreme Court pick

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Minority Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerMaxine Waters on criticism from Schumer: Leadership will do anything to protect their power Overnight Health Care: Judge blocks Kentucky Medicaid work requirements | Trump officials consider cuts to ObamaCare outreach | House probes HHS office in charge of migrant children Overnight Health Care: Amazon enters the pharmacy business | Two Republicans to play pivotal role in Supreme Court abortion fight | Senate panel approves medical research boost MORE (D-N.Y.) on Monday floated that the Senate could force President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump congratulates Mexico’s new president: ‘I look very much forward to working with him’ Comedian who allegedly prank-called Trump says he has hired Michael Avenatti Ex-Trump aide pushes for Hope Hicks as chief of staff: Trump will ‘listen to women more than men’ MORE to name a moderate to the Supreme Court — if they reject his “extreme” nominee first. 

“If the Senate rejects an extreme candidate, it would present President Trump the opportunity to instead select a moderate, consensus nominee,” Schumer wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

With Republicans holding a slim 51-49 majority, Democrats don’t have the ability to block whoever Trump nominates to fill the vacancy being created by Justice Anthony Kennedy’s decision to retire at the end of the month. 

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But because Republicans have a “razor-thin” margin, Schumer argues, picking up one or two Republican senators to vote against Trump’s pick “will make the difference between the confirmation and rejection of an ideological nominee.”

“While the number of Democrats in the Senate is not a majority, the number of senators who believe in protections for those with pre-existing conditions and women’s reproductive rights is a majority of the Senate. Given this vacancy, the best way to defend those rights is for a bipartisan majority in the Senate to lock arms and reject a Supreme Court nominee who would overturn them,” Schumer wrote in the Times op-ed. 

With Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainLeft mounts heavy pressure campaign on swing senators over Supreme Court Sunday shows preview: Supreme Court fight in the spotlight Appeals court nominees languish in Senate as Flake demands tariff vote MORE (R-Ariz.) absent as he battles brain cancer, the GOP majority is effectively capped at 50 votes in the Senate. That means Democrats would only need to win over one GOP vote to have a majority. If he were to return, they would need to win over two Republicans to sink a Trump nominee. 

But every GOP senator voted for Trump’s first Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch.

GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem senator says Supreme Court vote could be ‘career ending’ for lawmakers Supreme Court battle revives abortion debate Trump doesn’t intend to read Supreme Court pick’s academic writing but wants to know it exists: report MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSupreme Court battle revives abortion debate Left mounts heavy pressure campaign on swing senators over Supreme Court Sunday shows preview: Supreme Court fight in the spotlight MORE (Alaska) are currently viewed as two potential swing votes, because of the implications for Roe v. Wade, the 1973 case that established the right to abortion. Kennedy was the fifth justice in a 1992 decision that upheld that ruling.

Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court pick on July 9, the same day senators return from a week-long recess. 

Schumer added in his op-ed that Kennedy’s retirement has sparked “the most important vacancy” on the court in his lifetime.

Democrats and their outside group allies have seized on the abortion case, as well as potential legal challenges to the Affordable Care Act, as they try to drum up momentum ahead of the looming nominations fight. 

“Two issues of similar and profound consequence, which could well defeat a nominee who opposes them, are the fate of affordable health care and a woman’s freedom to make the most sensitive medical decisions about her body,” Schumer wrote

He added that if voters don’t want a justice who will target both of those issues “tell your Senators they should not vote for a candidate from Mr. Trump’s preordained list.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDem senator ‘anxious to hear’ if Supreme Court pick thinks Trump can pardon himself Trump adviser: Supreme Court pick not about Roe v. Wade Collins: I’m going to have ‘in-depth’ talk with SCOTUS pick about Roe v. Wade MORE (R-Ky.) said last week that the Upper Chamber will move quickly to confirm a Trump nominee.

Trump was initially expected to select his next Supreme Court nominee from a list of 25 names.

But Collins said over the weekend that the White House had expanded its search and added “a few additional, potential nominees … to that list.”

Both Collins and Murkowski had publicly suggested late last week that the White House should broaden its search. 

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