Democrats are raising the prospect of a President Donald Trump in the fight over filling the vacancy on the Supreme Court.
For Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada that means allowing Trump, a man he called “anti-woman, anti-Hispanic, anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant,” to determine the balance of the court if he’s elected.
“So now Trump is the nominee. He is the nominee the leaders of the Republican Party deserve,” Reid said Thursday in a conference call with reporters. “The Republican Party is Trump’s party. There’s no better example of that than blocking a Supreme Court nominee.”
Trump has emerged this week as the presumptive Republican presidential standard-bearer .
Obama nominated Garland, the chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, following Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February.
[Related: Meet Merrick Garland: Next Justice or Historical Footnote?]
The possibility that Trump could be the next president has not changed some Republicans’ minds about stalling the nomination.
“While I’m glad to see Democrats concede that there won’t be a Democrat in the White House next year, Republicans continue to believe that the American people should have a voice in this decision and the next president should make the nomination,” said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Charles E. Grassley of Iowa also remained firm in his belief that Garland’s nomination should not be considered.
“Based upon the type of people he’d be looking for, I think I would expect the right type of people to be nominated by [Trump] to the Supreme Court,” Grassley told The Des Moines Register Wednesday.
Reid said that when GOP senators concede that Trump should determine the direction of the court, “It’s a sad day for Republicans.”
So far, there have been no cracks in the Republican ranks. Only two GOP senators have called for confirmation hearings and a vote on Garland, though 14 have met with him.
But Reid argued that vulnerable Republicans running for re-election who are struggling with how to react to Trump given his past controversial statements, face increasing public pressure.
“Every day that goes by is a day that is hurtful for them because this is a losing issue for them,” Reid said.
Reid said Trump’s nomination helps Democrats remain competitive in a number of states with Senate seats currently held by Republicans, including Wisconsin, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Missouri, Florida, New Hampshire, Arizona and even in Grassley’s home state Iowa.
But Reid admitted he was concerned that some Democrats could become overconfident about their chances of taking back the Senate majority.
“Am I concerned about it? Of course I am,” Reid said. “I think this race could be a debacle for the Republicans. But I’m not taking it for granted, I’m not being overconfident”
“I want to leave the Senate with the majority,” said Reid, who is retiring this year. “We cannot be overconfident.”