Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) told his colleagues during a Democratic caucus call on Saturday afternoon that retaliation is possible if Republicans fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the passing of Ruth Bader Ginsburg before the inauguration in January.
“Let me be clear: if Leader McConnell and Senate Republicans move forward with this, then nothing is off the table for next year,” Schumer said, according to Politico. “Nothing is off the table.”
The New York senator added that “everything Americans value is at stake” and that Democrats should highlight the impact filling the vacancy would have on health care and civil rights, among other issues.
Ginsburg passed away on Friday evening at her home in Washington surrounded by her family members. A private service for the former justice will be held at Arlington National Ceremony in Virginia.
Trump said on Saturday that he intends to nominate a woman to fill the seat and urged Republicans to vote on the confirmation without delay.
Democrats have proposed a number of potential retaliatory steps should they win control of the White House and Senate in the election in November. One option would be to eliminate the Senate’s filibuster rule, which would make the chamber more like the House, where the majority always prevails. Another possibility would be to expand the number of judges on the Supreme Court bench, a practice referred to as “packing the court.”
“Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year. If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court,” Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) wrote on Twitter on Friday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced shortly after Ginsburg’s passing that he intends to move the president’s nomination for a vote on the Senate floor.
Senate Democrats vehemently oppose moving forward with the confirmation, but don’t have the power to block the vote from coming to the floor. Republicans hold a 53-47 majority in the Senate.
A number of GOP senators have already signaled support for the idea, including Martha McSally (R-Ariz.), Sen. Rick Scott (R-Fla.), Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Thom Tillis (R-N.C.).
Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) said in a statement on Saturday that she opposed moving forward with the confirmation. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has previously said she opposes the idea.
Janita Khan contributed to this report.