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Democratic Senate leader vows to block Trump's Supreme Court nominee

(Reuters/Jonathan Ernst)U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) speaks with reporters after the weekly Senate Democratic caucus luncheon at the U.S. Capitol on Washington, U.S. January 4, 2017.

Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer said that he intends to oppose President-elect Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominees that he considers to be "out of the mainstream."

Trump is expected to fill a vacancy at the Supreme Court when he takes office. During the campaign period, he released two separate lists of potential nominees that could fill the empty seat.

In an interview on MSNBC's "Rachel Maddow Show," Schumer suggested that Democrats are prepared to block efforts to appoint nominees that veer away from the mainstream.

"If they don't appoint somebody good, we're going to oppose them tooth and nail," he told Maddow. "We are not going to make it easy for them to pick a Supreme Court justice," he added.

When asked whether he would rather keep the seat open than confirm a nominee outside the mainstream, Schumer replied, "absolutely."

"It's hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we [Democrats] could support," said Schumer.

The vacancy at the Supreme Court was created after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February last year. President Obama nominated U.S. Appeals Judge Merrick Garland in March to fill the vacancy, but it was blocked by Senate Republicans. The nomination expired without a vote on Tuesday when the new 115th Congress was sworn in.

In June, Schumer castigated Republicans for refusing to give Garland the vote.

"Having a deadlocked, 4-4 court could lead to judicial chaos surrounding environmental protections, voting rights, and so many other issues that are important to everyday Americans. This delay has gone on long enough, it's time for the Senate to do the job we were elected to do," he said.

Trump is also expected to fill 103 vacancies in federal and district courts across the U.S. There were only 54 vacancies when Obama assumed power in 2009. Democrats have asserted that the high number of judicial appointments inherited by Trump was due to the obstructionism caused by the Republican Congress.

Republicans are hopeful that the president-elect will appoint judges who will uphold conservative principles on issues ranging from gun control and abortion to regulatory reform.

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