The Senate's No. 3 Democrat said Tuesday that his 2007 promise to block a conservative Supreme Court nominee should not be used by the GOP to justify its own plan to ignore President Obama's choice to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said his pledge to stop a nomination by then-President George W. Bush is an "apples to oranges comparison" to the current vacancy because he would have at least entertained the nomination and voted on it.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has signaled he won't even take up an Obama nominee and has declared Scalia's replacement should be chosen by the next president.
"Senator McConnell's attempt to justify his unprecedented obstruction with my speech is completely misleading and patently false," Schumer wrote on the website Medium.
Schumer told the American Constitution Society in 2007 that Democrats "should reverse the presumption of confirmation," because the court was "dangerously out of balance." At the time, George W. Bush was president.
But Schumer argues now that Democrats would have taken up a Bush nomination.
"Every single senator has a right to vote no on any given nominee," Schumer wrote. "I've opposed some nominees who are out of the mainstream, my friends on the other side of the aisle have opposed some nominees they believe are out of the mainstream, and this pattern may well continue. But the wisdom of the Founding Fathers dictates that we should go through a full vetting and confirmation process so that we and the nation can determine whether these candidates are out of the mainstream even in this ideological era."
Shortly after Scalia's death was announced on Saturday, McConnell issued a statement suggesting the GOP-majority Senate won't take up an Obama nominee to the high court.
"The American people‎ should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice," McConnell said. "Therefore, this vacancy should not be filled until we have a new President."
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post Tuesday that called the GOP strategy "radical," and said by leaving a high court vacancy, "it is easy to envision a future where the Supreme Court is routinely crippled," by partisan politics.