January 4, 2017

During his interview with Rachel Maddow Tuesday night, Senator Chuck Schumer was surprisingly forceful in his answers about how Democrats would handle any Supreme Court nominee Trump put up for nomination, unless the nominee was at least as moderate as Merrick Garland, the nominee Republicans defeated by stalling for nearly a year.

Rachel Maddow pressed him hard on the question, and his answer was surprisingly strong.

Transcript below:

MADDOW: Let me ask you a hard-line edge on that which is the Supreme Court. The Republicans took this unprecedented step. They didn't let President Obama make a Supreme Court appointment for almost a year now.

SCHUMER: Very moderate, mainstream nominee.

MADDOW: A nominee who a lot of progressives would have been very disappointed in. but that was an incredibly radical thing the Republicans did. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon says they stole a Supreme Court seat.

SCHUMER: That's a fair statement.

MADDOW: Didn't they just get away with it?

SCHUMER: They did.

MADDOW: There are no consequences for it?

SCHUMER: Well, the consequences will be down the road. We are not going to settle on a Supreme Court nominee if they don't appoint someone who is good, We'll oppose them tooth and nail. They won't have 60 votes to put in an out-of-the-mainstream nominee. Then they have to make a choice, change the rules. It will be hard for them to change the rules because there are a handful of Republicans who believe in the institution of the Senate and won't. But we are not going to make it easy for them to pick a Supreme Court justice.

MADDOW: Is there an argument to be made, though, if it is a fair statement that that was basically a stolen seat, so it isn't theirs to fill, in that case, no nominee would be legitimate because that seat should have been filled by President Obama.

SCHUMER: It's hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support. so you're right.

MADDOW: So you will do your best to hold the seat open.

SCHUMER: Absolutely.

Hold him to that promise. Hold all of them to it.

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