Chris Matthews: Democrats Shouldn't Even Allow Meetings With Trump's Supreme Court Nominee

June 27, 2018

MSNBC anchor Chris Matthews said on Wednesday that Democrats shouldn't even take meetings with President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee – who is yet to be named – to replace Justice Anthony Kennedy.

"I don't think the Democrats should allow even meetings to occur with Trump's nominee to fill this vacancy by Justice Kennedy," Matthews said.

Kennedy announced Wednesday he would retire, giving Trump the opportunity to make two appointments in two years to the nation's highest court. The vacancy sets up a bitter confirmation fight right before the midterm elections, where Republicans only have a single vote majority in the Senate. Despite the slim majority, Senate Republicans only need a simple majority to confirm the Supreme Court nominee after former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) eliminated the filibuster for judicial nominees.

Matthews brought up how Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) blocked hearings and a vote for former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland in 2016.

"I think they have to fight eye for an eye for what happened in '16 where the Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, refused to even consider or even meet with Merrick Garland. I think if the Democratic leadership under Schumer allows this to go forward, they're going to have a huge problem with the Democratic base," Matthews said.

"There is no way politically the Democratic base will stand for any kind of hearings or vote on a Trump nominee for the Supreme Court before the election," Matthews added. "We've got an election in four and a half months. There's no reason to consider a replacement on the Supreme Court in that time. No reason given the history of what happened."

MSNBC host Steve Kornacki asked Matthews how Democrats stop Trump's nominee going forward since they are the minority and no longer can filibuster the nominee.

"I guess the practical question is, if that's the approach Democrats want to take, how do they do it?" Kornacki asked. "Because they tried to filibuster the Garland -- excuse me, they tried to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination. Republicans just did away with the filibuster. Republicans have 51 votes right now, 50 if McCain is sidelined. Still enough with Pence sitting there. If Republicans stay together, is there anything Democrats can do?"

Matthews responded with a long rant where he unhinged on past Supreme Court rulings.

"There's a lot of dilatory tactics they can use on every other bill before the Congress between now and November. If they don't use everything they've got, if they don't play hardball, I think they're through. I know the Democratic base. They are very angry about this leadership. They feel it has not fought hard enough against Trump and that they allow Trump to fill the Supreme Court with another conservative who will not share Justice Anthony Kennedy's views on social issues like marriage equality," Matthews said.

Matthew continued on in an effort to drive home his point Democrats will not accept the appointment of a conservative judge, saying the party's base is "wired" for a revolt.

But if he gets replaced by a hardline social conservative, it is – the Democratic leadership will have Hell to pay. They cannot let this happen. They have to play hardball. They've got to do exactly to the other side what Mitch McConnell did to them, play hardball and win. They must prevent the Republican-controlled Senate to pick another justice on this hard-right court. Look at the decision starting with Bush v. Gore. Look at the decision on the Heller case where everybody in the country can have the biggest gun they can buy. Look at the case on Citizens United where the people with the most money win all the elections. And then that God-awful decision yesterday on what is basically an anti-Muslim bill. They voted right down the line 5-4 in every case. The Democrats have got to fight for that fifth seat with everything they've got. If they allow this to proceed, they're going to look stupid, they're going to look weak, and they're going to be overthrown. I tell you, the Democratic base is wired now for a revolt. This will be the trigger for it. He shouldn't have a meeting with any of his nominees. They shouldn't have any hearings, they shouldn't show up for any hearings. They should fight this tooth and nail.

Kornacki tried to cut off Matthews to show the president's comments on Kennedy's annoucement.

"He's not going to decide this thing," Matthews said in reference to Trump.