WASHINGTON — The U.S. Senate GOP and conservative groups have already started working on getting a new conservative justice appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Politico reported late Wednesday afternoon that Judicial Crisis Network was beginning a seven-figure campaign on national cable and digital platforms intended to boost Trump’s. The effort will launch on Thursday and is aimed at putting moderate Senate Democrats in a tough spot before the election, less than a day after Kennedy’s announcement.
“President Trump has proven that he wants the best of the best on the Supreme Court. He appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch, a fair and independent justice, committed to the Constitution,” a narrator says in the ad. The ad then flashes to photos Democrats Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Minority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker and said that “extremists will lie and attack the nominee.”
Americans for Prosperity, funded by the Koch Brothers, are also prepared to put in $1 million or more if Trump selects a nominee in the mold of Gorsuch, an AFP official told Politico. The group will wait and see who Trump picks before launching such a campaign.
In a separate story, Politico also reported that the GOP was planning to “steamroll” Democrats to get the confirmation done as quickly as possible.
The Senate GOP is expected to execute a lightning strike confirmation despite their razor thin majority of 51 senators, which is effectively down to 50 as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recovers from brain cancer. But because of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s rules change last year to push through Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch, the GOP can unilaterally confirm a new justice without any Democratic support.
McConnell told reporters that the nominee will be confirmed before this fall; Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has said that historically it takes about two months on average from the time a president nominates a new justice to the time a Judiciary Committee hearing is held. What that means practically is the Senate is likely to have installed a firm conservative majority on the high court by the time voters go to the polls in November.
“The goal will be to get a conservative confirmed before the election,” said Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), the No. 4 GOP leader. “I’m delighted to see President Trump have another opportunity to appoint another Supreme Court justice. And I’m sure he’s going to appoint somebody just like Antonin Scalia and Neil Gorsuch.”
Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, however, are both moderates and have bucked GOP leadership on past votes, such as repealing the ACA.
Senate Democrats can’t filibuster a nomination. That was eliminated by the GOP during the fight over Gorsuch.
UPDATE – 5 p.m., 6/27/2018:
The Hill reported that U.S. Senator Susan Collins said she would only vote to preserve precedent, including that set with Roe v. Wade.
From The Hill:
“I view Roe v. Wade as being settled law. It’s clearly precedent and I always look for judges who respect precedent,” Collins told reporters on Wednesday, referencing the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide.
Her comments come after Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement quickly reignited talk of a possible fight over abortion.
Kennedy had been the fifth vote for upholding Roe v. Wade, the landmark case that established the right to abortion in 1973.