MSNBC host Chris Matthews reacted to the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy by saying it would be unacceptable for Republicans to confirm a nominee with only a bare majority, but in 2013 he cheered then-Sen. Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D.) decision to do away with the filibuster for judicial vacancies.
Matthews said on Nov. 21, 2013 that Reid showed leadership and guts by using the so-called nuclear option to end Republicans’ filibuster on former President Barack Obama’s judicial nominees. He said Reid was right not to "just pretend to be the Senate majority leader," but instead to "be the leader," ending the filibuster for federal judicial nominees below the Supreme Court.
"I’ve been arguing for, I don’t know how many years now, that the president needs a phalanx," Matthews said. "A bunch of soldiers at the front ranks willing to take on the enemy and charge. Here you see them doing it. Harry Reid has guts because he’s basically saying it's better to get things done than just pretend to be Senate majority leader. he’s not interested in the form of being Senate leader, he wants to be the leader."
However, Matthews said Wednesday that Democrats must absolutely not accept Republican senators protecting President Donald Trump and confirming his nominee with a bare majority, which they can do after Sen. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) did away with the filibuster for High Court nominees. Matthews said the idea of Republicans confirming a new justice with 50 votes plus a tie-breaker by Vice President Mike Pence would be "unbelievable" to Democratic voters.
"They will not believe it, it will not seem believable that they couldn't stop the Senate from approving a presidential nominee with just 50 votes," he said.
Matthews said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) must work all the procedural votes he can to prevent a new justice from being confirmed.
"If Schumer goes along with that, the whole gang of them are gone," Matthews said. "Look what happened to Joe Crowley yesterday; he’s gone."
Matthews said the Democratic base is tired of losing to Trump and they will demand Democratic senators not lose this fight.
"The left of the Democratic Party, the progressive base of the party – and that's minorities, young people, millennials, it's also Hispanics, Latinos, African-Americans – they're tired of losing!" Matthews said. "They're tired of losing!"