McConnell won’t rule out nuclear option for Supreme Court nominee
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell Sunday refused to rule out the possibility of invoking the so-called “nuclear option” when confirming the next Supreme Court justice, answering repeated inquiries by expressing confidence on Sunday that President Trump‘s nominee will get confirmed.
The nuclear option would allow Senate Republicans to confirm the Supreme Court nominee with a simple majority and not the 60-vote supermajority required under current Senate rules. While former Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pulled the trigger on the nuclear option in 2013 for lower court judges, he left the rules surrounding Supreme Court confirmations intact.
“Let me just say, I’m confident we’ll get a Supreme Court nominee confirmed,” McConnell said during an appearance on “Fox News Sunday.” “I expect an outstanding nominee sometime soon.”
McConnell drew attention to Senate Republicans’ treatment of the Supreme Court nominees of past Democratic presidents, noting that GOP lawmakers had not filibustered Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Justice Stephen Breyer.
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Senate Democrats have been highly critical of Republicans’ refusal to allow a hearing for Merrick Garland, former President Obama‘s nominee to fill the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death early last year. Republicans argued that the next president should fill the vacancy, regardless of whether Hillary Clinton or Trump won the election.
McConnell noted the Senate under current rules would need to invoke “cloture” if Democrats attempted to block Trump’s nominee. Cloture is the mechanism for ending a filibuster, and it requires 60 votes.
“If he is not treated that way, then, under the current Senate rule, we would have to get cloture,” McConnell said of Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. “We had to do that when the Democrats objecting to Justice [Samuel] Alito 10 years ago, but cloture was invoked … I think the short answer is, the nominee will be confirmed.”
Pressed again on whether he would consider using the nuclear option to confirm a Supreme Court justice, McConnell repeated: “The nominee will be confirmed.”