By Clare Foran and Manu Raju, CNN
Updated: Wed, 26 Jan 2022 23:13:38 GMT
After a series of recent stinging legislative defeats, Senate Democrats may soon be able to deliver a win for their party.
Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer is looking at a quick time frame to confirm President Joe Biden's nominee to the Supreme Court -- and he will follow a similar timeline that Republicans employed to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the court in 2020, according to a source familiar with his thinking.
Senate sources also say that the Senate can act on the Biden nominee before Justice Stephen Breyer officially steps down from the court. So Democrats expect to hold hearings and votes before Breyer officially steps aside at the end of his term.
The late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18, 2020 -- and Barrett was nominated on September 26, 2020. She was confirmed October 26, 2020 -- just days before the election, prompting Democratic anger.
Senate Democrats are confident that whomever Biden picks to replace 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.
LIVE UPDATES: Supreme Court Justice Stephen Breyer to retire
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.
Schumer indicated in a statement on Wednesday 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.
Schumer later echoed that sentiment in brief public remarks. "In the Senate we want to be deliberate, we want to move quickly, we want to get this done as soon as possible," he said.
Senate Judiciary Chairman Dick Durbin, an Illinois Democrat, said in a statement, "I look forward to moving the President's nominee expeditiously through the Committee."
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 Barrett because her confirmation vote was too close to the 2020 election.
Manchin said in a statement on Wednesday, "I take my Constitutional responsibility to advise and consent on a nominee to the Supreme Court very seriously. I look forward to meeting with and evaluating the qualifications of President Biden's nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy."
Arizona Democratic 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.
"If all Democrats hang together -- which I expect they will -- they have the power to replace Justice Breyer in 2022 without one Republican vote in support," Graham said in a statement reacting to the news.
"Elections have consequences, and that is most evident when it comes to fulfilling vacancies on the Supreme Court," he added.
Of course, once the nomination is made and the vetting process occurs, the dynamics can certainly change.
One area that will require GOP cooperation
The Senate Judiciary Committee — which is divided evenly between the two parties — must have a majority of members present in order to hold a vote on the Supreme Court nominee. If the 11 Republicans were to boycott the committee vote, they would effectively deny Democrats a quorum to bring the matter to vote and advance it to the floor, according to Senate aides.
It would be very risky for the GOP to employ this gambit on the first African American woman justice. And it's unclear how the Senate would proceed if that extraordinary circumstance were to happen.
Hill Democrats urge Biden to nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court
A wide array of congressional Democrats publicly urged Biden to honor his campaign promise and nominate a Black woman to the Supreme Court.
Democratic Sen. Patty Murray of Washington said in a statement, "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."
House Democrats also spoke out in favor of the President nominating a Black woman.
"@POTUS you promised us a Black woman on the Supreme Court. Let's see it happen," Rep. Jamaal Bowman of New York tweeted.
Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri wrote, "It is past time for a Black woman to be named to the Supreme Court."
"I look forward to @JoeBiden upholding his promise to nominate a Black woman as the next Supreme Court Justice," tweeted Rep. Carolyn Maloney of New York, the chairwoman of the House Oversight Committee.
This story has been updated with additional developments Wednesday.