MSNBC host Chris Matthews urged Democrats on Wednesday to do what they can to block the GOP-controlled Senate from approving a Supreme Court justice to replace outgoing Justice Anthony Kennedy, who announced his retirement earlier in the day.
“If he [Kennedy] gets replaced by a hardline social conservative, the Democratic leadership will have hell to pay. They cannot let this happen. They have to play hardball. They’ve got to do exactly to the other side that [Senate Majority Leader] Mitch McConnell did to them,” Matthews said.
“They must prevent the Republican-controlled Senate to pick another justice on this hard right court,” he continued, citing various Supreme Court decisions, including the court’s decision on Tuesday to uphold President Trump‘s travel ban.
“The Democrats have got to fight for that fifth seat with everything they’ve got.”
“If he gets replaced by a hard line social conservative, the democratic leadership will have hell to pay. They cannot let this happen … They’ve got to do exactly to the other side that Mitch McConnell did to them.” @HardballChris on Kennedy’s retirement. pic.twitter.com/zVw9R7E7Cg
— Hardball (@hardball) June 27, 2018
Matthews was referring to McConnell’s move in 2016 to block former President Obama’s pick to replace late Justice Anthony Scalia, Merrick Garland. McConnell said at the time that a presidential election was not the time to hold contentious nomination hearings, and that the voters should weigh in on the decision.
However, Republicans had a majority in the Senate at the time, in addition to a filibuster on Supreme Court nominations.
Democrats are currently in the minority and the filibuster on Supreme Court nominations has been removed, leaving Democratic senators with few moves to block a GOP pick.
President Trump announced on Wednesday that he will “immediately” begin searching for Kennedy’s replacement, and said the nomination would come from a list of 25 potential justices that was first released during the 2016 presidential campaign.
McConnell said the Senate would vote in the fall to confirm Trump’s nominee.
“The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering advice and consent … we will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” he said.