News & Politics

At Least One Democrat Senator Says He's 'Open to Voting Yes' for Trump's Supreme Court Pick

Grabien Screenshot of Sen. Doug Jones on CNN.

Democrats have mostly erected a united front against President Donald Trump’s nominee to replace Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. Trump will announce his pick this evening at 9 p.m. E.T. At least one Democrat, however, said he is open to voting for Trump’s pick, depending on whom the president nominates.

On Sunday night, Sen. Doug Jones (D-Ala.) suggested that he is “open to voting yes” to confirm President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, setting him apart from the Democrats who rushed to announce their opposition to any Kennedy replacement.

“To be clear, you are open to voting yes for whomever the president nominates,” CNN’s Dana Bash asked Jones Sunday.

“Oh, I’m open to voting yes. I’m open to voting no. We don’t know who this nominee is going to be yet,” Jones answered. “I don’t think my role is a rubber stamp for the president, but it’s also not an automatic knee-jerk no, either.”

The embattled Democrat argued that his job is to “exercise that independent voice. I want to look for a judge that has the intellect and capacity to do the right thing, to follow the rule of law, to adhere to the precedents and move the country forward.”

Naturally, some of those goals are incompatible. What Democrats consider “moving the country forward” usually entails doing violence to the basic meaning and original intent of the Constitution — like interpreting the document to include a right to abortion or a right to same-sex marriage. This unrestrained judicial activism is exactly what originalism intends to curb, and rightly so.

Despite this, Jones’ openness to at least considering Trump’s nominee ironically sets him apart from many Democrats who have already given a “knee-jerk no” before the nominee is even announced.

CNN’s Dana Bash helped explain why. “It’s an especially tough spot for democratic senators in states Trump won, now caught between their constituents and their democratic base. Among them, the Democratic senator representing Alabama, a state trump won by 28 points,” she said.

As Bash noted, Trump won 62 percent of the vote in Alabama. Jones, by contrast, narrowly defeated embattled Republican Roy Moore, 49.97 percent to 48.3 percent. That’s right, Doug Jones did not even win with a majority of votes — he only got 673,896 out of 1,348,720. Jones will face a difficult re-election battle in 2020, a presidential election year in which Trump’s supporters will likely mob Alabama’s polls. Expect Jones to lose.

In order to avoid a devastating loss, Jones will have to moderate the increasingly radical leftism of the Democratic Party. Perhaps for this reason, he has considered voting for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. All the same, he may join his fellow Democrats in lockstep once the name is announced.

Thanks to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) “nuclear option,” Republicans only need 50 votes in the Senate to confirm Trump’s nominee. Democrats have targeted Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), hoping to flip their votes. If all the Democrats oppose the vote, and two Republicans also vote against confirmation, Trump’s nominee will fail. This is unlikely, but expect the Democrats to put up one hell of a fight.

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