With a week left before President Trump is set to announce his pick to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy, those opposing the nomination are seeking to mobilize.
Trump’s second appointment to the nation’s high court, promised for July 9, is set to come from an unnamed pool that he told reporters last week has been narrowed to five people, including two women. This is whittled down significantly from the more than 20 candidates released by the White House last November. However, some are planning to protest any pick regardless of who gets the nod.
As long-time MSNBC political commentator Chris Matthews compared the coming nomination battle to the Spanish Civil War, filmmaker Michael Moore, whose list of work includes Bowling for Columbine, promised while speaking on Bill Maher’s HBO show Real Time to “surround” the U.S. Capitol with a million people to stop any vote until after the mid-term elections in November, where Moore argues the Senate could switch to a Democratic majority.
“If this judge goes through, for at least the rest of our lives, it’s a right-wing court,” said Moore. “That’s it. It’s over.”
Kennedy, a 1988 appointee of President Reagan and a month away from his 82nd birthday, wrote Trump last week in a brief one-page letter declaring his intention to leave the bench at the end of July. He expressed his “profound gratitude for having had the privilege to seek in each case how best to know, interpret, and defend the Constitution and the laws that must always conform to its mandates and promises.”
He was long seen as a swing vote on a panel that numbered five conservatives and four liberal justices. He sided with the majority in narrow 5-4 rulings in favor of gun rights in 2008 and 2010.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the top Dem on the Senate Judiciary Committee, delivered a 10-minute statement on the pending Supreme Court vacancy last week, urging to both bump the nomination to the next Congress and fill it with a compromise candidate.
“I strongly believe that the president should take his time to identify a strong consensus candidate that will not further divide this country and fan the flames of anger and anxiety that are beginning to tear people apart,” said Feinstein. “He has before him an opportunity to reach across the aisle and work in good faith to find a nominee who is within the legal mainstream and recognizes the needs to protect the rights of all Americans.”
During Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination hearings last March, Feinstein delayed a vote on the jurist after she grilled him on torture and wiretapping activities of the George W. Bush presidency, which Gorsuch served in the Department of Justice, circling back to gun control repeatedly during the process.
Even though Republicans may cry foul over partisan efforts to block or stall Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Democrats would be quick to remind about the Republican’s success effort to block President Obama’s nominee during his last year in office. Senate Leader Mitch McConnell said “the people should have a say” in the decision and pushed filling the vacancy until after the 2016 election.