Senate Democrats are confident that whomever President Joe Biden picks to replace Justice Stephen Breyer, the nominee will receive enough votes to get confirmed, according to senior Democratic sources.
That’s because of both the math and the history. Since Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell pushed through a change in filibuster rules in 2017, it just requires a party-line, simple majority vote to advance a Supreme Court nominee.
In the 50-50 Senate, all Democrats need to stay united with Vice President Kamala Harris breaking a potential tie in the event no Republicans break ranks.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer signaled he plans to move swiftly toward a confirmation vote once a nomination is made.
“President Biden’s nominee will receive a prompt hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and will be considered and confirmed by the full United States Senate with all deliberate speed,” Schumer said in a statement on Wednesday.
West Virginia Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin, a key swing vote, has a long history of deferring to presidents who make picks to the federal bench and the executive branch — backing two of three of President Donald Trump’s choices, Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh. He opposed Amy Coney Barrett because her confirmation vote was too close to the 2020 election.
Arizona Democrat Sen. Kyrsten Sinema has also sided with Biden on nominations.
And there’s a strong likelihood that Biden could win over some key GOP swing votes, such as Sen. Susan Collins, who voted for President Barack Obama’s choices of Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor. Sen. Lindsey Graham did as well. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, who faces a Trump-inspired GOP challenger this year, also voted against Kavanaugh.
Of course, once the nomination is made and the vetting process occurs, the dynamics can certainly change.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington urged the nomination and confirmation of a Black woman to the court following Breyer’s retirement.
“In the wake of Justice Breyer’s retirement, I want to voice my support for President Biden in his pledge to nominate the first Black woman to the Supreme Court. The Court should reflect the diversity of our country, and it is unacceptable that we have never in our nation’s history had a Black woman sit on the Supreme Court of the United States — I want to change that,” the senator said.