Ed Markey Says Dems Should Nix Filibuster If GOP Fills Supreme Court Seat Before Election

Democratic Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts called for abolishing the filibuster if the GOP-controlled Senate confirms President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick before the November election.

"Mitch McConnell set the precedent. No Supreme Court vacancies filled in an election year," Markey tweeted late Friday. "If he violates it, when Democrats control the Senate in the next Congress, we must abolish the filibuster and expand the Supreme Court."

Markey appeared to be referencing the fact that McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader, had announced his intent to push a Trump nominee through, just hours after receiving the news that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died.

"President Trump's nominee will receive a vote on the floor of the United States Senate," McConnell said in a statement to reporters.

McConnell's comment Friday was at odds, however, with ones he made ahead of the 2016 election, when then-President Barack Obama attempted to get his nominee, Merrick Garland, confirmed.

"The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," McConnell said in 2016. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president."

Talks of ending the filibuster, which is sometimes referred to "talking a bill to death," have ramped up ahead of the November 3 election date as Democrats' chances of gaining control of the Senate increase.

There are currently 47 senators who are either Democrats or caucus with the party, according to the Brookings Institution. If they want to become the majority, they must keep all 47 seats and pick up four of the ones being held by Republicans. National polls indicate that eight GOP senators are at risk of losing their seats to Democratic challengers.

Ed Markey
Senator Ed Markey speaks at the Back the Thrive Agenda press conference at the Longworth Office Building on September 10, 2020 in Washington, DC. Jemal Countess/Getty Images for Green New Deal Network/Getty

Markey moved Friday to threaten abolishing the filibuster, which allows members of Congress to debate over legislation for as long as they wish, unless two-thirds of the present senators vote to end discussion and move to a vote. The rule effectively makes it so that at least 60 senators are needed for a bill to pass, rather than the 51 majority.

Political leaders on both sides of the aisle have complained that the rule blocks important legislation from being passed. Trump tweeted during his first term as president his opposition to the rule.

"With the ridiculous Filibuster Rule in the Senate, Republicans need 60 votes to pass legislation, rather than 51. Can't get votes, END NOW!" he wrote in September 2017.

Biden, who has publicly opposed ending the filibuster in the past, indicated to reporters in July that he might be open to abolishing the rule, depending on "how obstreperous [Republicans] become," The New York Times reported.

In his tweet Friday night, Markey also brought up the possibility of packing the Supreme Court—something that Republicans have called radical and undemocratic, and Democrats have feared could backfire.

The Supreme Court has consisted of nine justices for more than a century, but there is no part of the Constitution that requires that number, according to the Times.

Newsweek contacted Markey's office for comment, but did not hear back in time for publication.

Ed Markey Says Dems Should Nix Filibuster If GOP Fills Supreme Court Seat Before Election | News