Marc Thiessen: Senate Democrats are bluffing, they are powerless to block Trump's Supreme Court nominee

Editor's note: The following column is adapted from a column which originally appeared on, the blog of the American Enterprise Institute.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has threatened to stonewall Donald Trump’s pick to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, telling MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Schumer said: “It’s hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support.” When Maddow asked, “You will do your best to hold the seat open?” Schumer replied, “Absolutely.”

The fact is, Senate Democrats are powerless to stop Trump from appointing and confirming a rock-ribbed conservative to replace Scalia.

Here is what Trump should tell Schumer in so uncertain terms:

  • As you know, I have put out a list of 21 judges from which I will choose my nominee to fill Justice Scalia’s seat.  One of those judges will be my nominee. And that nominee will be confirmed by the United States Senate.
  • I sincerely hope that he or she will be confirmed with bipartisan support.
  • But if you are under the impression, as you suggested in a recent interview, that you can block my nominee and hold the seat open, I have news for you:  That is not going to happen.
  • In 2013 Senate Democrats invoked the “nuclear option” and changed Senate rules to eliminate the filibuster for lifetime judicial appointments to the federal circuit courts. You did it so you could fill the federal bench with liberal judges using Democratic votes alone.
  • Well, if you try to obstruct my nominee, I will have no choice but to follow the precedent you set and apply those very same rules to Supreme Court nominees – which means we can confirm my nominee with Republican votes alone.
  • I don’t want to do that. I would prefer to keep the current Senate rules intact. But if you attempt to block my nominee, I will have no choice.
  • And if you force me to do that, it not only means that those rules will apply to this Supreme Court nomination, but also to any future Supreme Court nominations I make.
  • I know that you have to put on a show of opposition for your base, but I want us all to be clear what the outcome is going to be here.   My nominee will be confirmed.
  • For you, victory is not defeating my nominee.  For you, victory is seeing my nominee confirmed with the filibuster preserved.
  • Any questions?

In his inaugural address, Trump promised “we are transferring power from Washington, D.C. and giving it back to you, the people.” That starts with the Supreme Court.