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U.S. Sen. Cory Booker. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Menendez, Booker have little hope of blocking Supreme Court nominee

Senators urging a Democratic sweep in November as recourse

By Nikita Biryukov, September 28 2020 3:49 pm

New Jersey’s U.S. senators don’t have much hope they’ll stop Republicans from appointing a new Supreme Court justice, so they’re pointing incensed voters toward the ballot box.

“We’re going to use every procedural tactic we can to try to stop this, but I don’t think the tools are there in the toolbox to ultimately achieve that end,” U.S. Sen. Cory Booker (D-Newark) said. “So, this is a question for the polls. If you think this is wrong, if you value your health care, get out and vote.”

President Donald Trump is expected to nominate U.S. Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to fill late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s seat in the coming days.

Though a small number of Republicans have said the seat should be filled after the winner of November’s election is inaugurated, there’s little indication that Republican defections will be numerous enough to stop her Barrett’s confirmation.

The saga has incensed Democrats still sore over Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) blocking of Judge Merrick Garland’s Supreme Court confirmation some eight months before the end of President Barack Obama’s turn.

“This is a pure, naked power grab. Never before in the history of our country, 35 days or so before an election would we be in the midst of appointing a justice to the Supreme Court,” U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-North Bergen) said. “It worries me deeply that President Trump said ‘we need to get this done because they will decide the election.’ I thought in America the people decided the election, not the Supreme Court.”

Absent Republican allies, Democrats have few real options to block the nomination. Mainly, they can use arcane Senate rules to slow the chamber’s business by opposing unanimous consent decrees, block committees from meeting two hours after the chamber begins a session or make it more difficult for the chamber to reach its quorum.

But while exploiting those rules may slow down the confirmation, there’s little chance the proceedings will stretch until Jan. 20.

Still, the saga presents Democrats an opportunity to hammer their GOP counterparts ahead of an election that may deliver them the presidency and majorities in both chambers of Congress.

“I would just remind people as I have for most of my nearly five decades in public service. Elections have consequences. We are living the consequence of the last one,” Menendez said. “We can change it. What keeps me still positive is there is nothing that the president can do that, ultimately, we cannot undo if we have a president and a majority in Congress.”

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