Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., said Thursday that President Barack Obama should pick a "mainstream" nominee to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
Obama has yet to name his choice to replace Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, but on Wednesday he rejected a reporter's suggestion that his nominee would be "moderate," insisting that his choice would be someone who is "well-qualified." Schumer said in a call with the media Thursday that the president should choose someone who can garner support from Democrats and Republicans.
"I think it should be a mainstream nominee that can get bipartisan support and get on the court,” Schumer, the third highest ranking Senate Democrat and a member of the Judiciary Committee, said, though he declined to name names.
Schumer did point out that both of Obama's high court picks, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, received bipartisan confirmation. Eight Republicans crossed the aisle to confirm Sotomayor, while five GOP senators voted to confirm Kagan.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., agreed that the nominee should receive bipartisan support, and said the nominee should also be "a person of unquestioned intellect and integrity."
The two Senate Democrats addressed the press on a call regarding the grassroots effort urging Senate Republicans to act on the president's pick to replace Scalia, who was found dead at a Texas ranch Saturday. GOP senators, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., have said the next president should select a nominee.
The groups on the call — including the Progressive Change Campaign Committee, MoveOn.org, and Color of Change — did not flinch at Schumer's remark that the nominee should be in the mainstream.
“What we’ve seen from Democratic presidents in the past are many mainstream nominees," said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. He pointed to past nominees' positions supporting abortion rights and same-sex marriage. "These are not progressive positions. These are mainstream American positions."
But, the group's leaders noted, the first step is ensuring that the president's pick will be considered by the Senate. MoveOn.org executive director Anna Galland said her group is focusing on organizing its 8 million members to call their senators and engage online in the push for action.
"Grassroots voices are going to be the key in getting Sen. McConnell to back down,” Schumer said.
Schumer and other Senate Democrats have argued that Republicans will have to give in on their decision not to move forward with the president's nominee, and Democrats anticipate the public will pressure the GOP to do so.
"We’re seeing that [Republican] coalition begin to crack,” Schumer said. Both he and Blumenthal pointed to Republican statements Tuesday , specifically Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley's comment that he has not decided whether he will hold a nomination hearing.
On Wednesday, Democrats continued their argument that Republicans would relent.
"Today is officially Day One of McConnell Back Down Watch," Adam Jentleson, deputy chief of staff to Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said in a message to the press. "At this point it's just a matter of time until Senator McConnell backs down on the first step on this process and allows hearings and a vote on President Obama's Supreme Court nominee to proceed."
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