The Washington Post reported Thursday that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer asked President Trump to nominate Merrick Garland to replace retiring Justice Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court:
Trump had called Schumer on Tuesday afternoon for a Supreme Court-centered conversation that lasted less than five minutes, according to a person familiar with the call. Schumer, the person said, pressed the president to name Garland to succeed Kennedy, arguing doing so would help unite the country.
Schumer also warned the president that nominating a jurist who would be hostile to Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that established a woman’s right to an abortion, and to Obama’s signature health-care law, would be “cataclysmic” and damage Trump’s legacy, the person added, requesting anonymity since they were not authorized to speak publicly.
As many have already said this afternoon, the idea that Trump would agree to this is laughable – so preposterous, in fact, that Schumer’s move was almost certainly intended only as a signal to the constituency of Democrats and independents sore about, or at least troubled by, what happened to Merrick Garland and the GOP’s erosion of political norms over the past several years. The trouble with this as a political ploy is that asking Trump politely over the phone to give up a court nomination isn’t actually going to rally anyone. Schumer’s move additionally makes him look even weaker and more naive to Democrats and activists who already believe the party isn’t doing enough to fight back against Trump.
If Democrats want to revive what happened to Garland as a live issue and call attention to the impact another conservative justice on the Court is going to have besides, they should obstruct the procedures of the Senate to the extent that they can. Theatre can be productive, but this display by Schumer is on par with his little-noticed photo-op at a DC gas station.