Matt Shuham

Matt Shuham is a news writer for TPM. He was previously associate editor of The National Memo and managing editor of the Harvard Political Review. He is available by email at and on Twitter @mattshuham.

Articles by Matt

Following Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement announcement Wednesday, several Democratic senators have urged Republicans to follow their own lead from 2016 and wait until after the 2018 elections to fill Kennedy’s seat.

After the late Supreme Court Justice Anthony Scalia’s passing, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) kept Scalia’s seat vacant on the court for a year.

President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia’s seat in March 2016; after an unprecedented obstruction effort from Senate Republicans, Justice Neil Gorsuch was confirmed in April 2017.


Democrats Who Say There Should Be No SCOTUS Vote Before The Election: 

Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): “The American people shld have a voice. A confirmation vote shld take place after a new Congress is seated. My Republican colleagues shld follow their own precedent.”

Bob Casey (D-PA): “The @SenateMajLdr should follow his own rule. The Senate should only consider this nomination when a new Senate is seated in January.”

Dick Durbin (D-IL)“Senator McConnell set the new standard by giving the American people their say in the upcoming election before Court vacancies are filled. With so much at stake for the people of our country, the U.S. Senate must be consistent and consider the President’s nominee once the new Congress is seated in January.”

Dianne Feinstein (D-CA): “We’re now four months away from an election to determine the party that will control the Senate. There should be no consideration of a Supreme Court nominee until the American people have a chance to weigh in. Leader McConnell set that standard in 2016 when he denied Judge Garland a hearing for nearly a year, and the Senate should follow the McConnell Standard.”

Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY): “The President just said the next Supreme Court nominee WILL come from his list of 25 judges that passed his overturning Roe v. Wade litmus test. We need to say NO hearings before the election and work our hearts out and take back the Senate.”

Kamala Harris (D-CA): “Given the stakes of this seat which will determine the fate of protected constitutional rights, the American people, who are set to vote in less than four months, deserve to have their voice heard.”

Jeff Merkley (D-OR): “No nominee should be considered until AFTER the election.”

Chris Murphy (D-CT): “Senator McConnell set a precedent when he refused to hold a hearing on Merrick Garland, and he should stick to the rule he set. Under the McConnell rule, the Senate shouldn’t consider any nominee for the Supreme Court until January, and I expect Republicans in the Senate to honor the rule they all agreed to just two short years ago.”

Patty Murray (D-WA): “I am hopeful that Republican leaders go back and look at what they said very recently and give families across the country the opportunity to weigh in — with an election — before moving forward to fill this seat.”

Bill Nelson (D-FL): “I thank Justice Kennedy for his many years of dedicated service to our country. Justice Kennedy was a balanced, consensus candidate nominated by President Reagan. I expect President Trump to do the same with his nomination. I believe the American people should be given the opportunity to express their view in the upcoming election, and then have the Senate exercise its constitutional duties.”

Bernie Sanders (I-VT): “We should listen to what Sen. McConnell said in 2016. President Trump should not nominate, and the Senate should not confirm, a Supreme Court justice until the American people have had the opportunity to make their voices heard in November.”

Chuck Schumer (D-NY):  “Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016 not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year.” 

Chris Van Hollen (D-MD): “The McConnell Rule is clear—the American people must have a say in the upcoming election Kennedy’s seat is filled. And when the Senate considers the President’s nominee next year, we need someone who will get broad support—not someone that will put special interests first.”

Elizabeth Warren (D-MA): “Mitch McConnell should follow the Mitch McConnell rule. Let the American people have a say when women’s health and equal rights are on the line.”


Democrats Who Haven’t Said There Should Be No SCOTUS Vote Before The Election: 

Sherrod Brown (D-OH): “I’m already very troubled by SCOTUS’ actions in just the last few weeks—taking away workers’ rights, voters’ rights & women’s rights. I hope POTUS will take this opportunity to bring Americans together by appointing someone with a well-respected record all sides can support.”

Maria Cantwell (D-WA): “As a United States Senator, I take my constitutional responsibility to advise and consent very seriously. The American people deserve a thorough and deliberative vetting process for whomever the president nominates.”

Ben Cardin (D-MD): “I can assure you that we have not forgotten about Merrick Garland. We know the abuses of @SenateMajLdr and the Republican leadership. What they did to President Obama and his nominee for the Supreme Court was nothing short of outrageous.”

Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV): “I will thoroughly review the qualifications of President Trump’s nominee to the Court. Nothing less than a woman’s right to choose is on the line with this vacant Supreme Court seat.”

Joe Donnelly (D-IN): “At some point, the nominee will come forward. And as I’ve said before, I have no litmus tests. I will judge the person on the merits of the case, just as I did with Judge Gorsuch. I voted for Judge Gorsuch because I thought, on balance, that he was appropriate and a good fit for the Supreme Court, and whoever’s nominated and comes forward, we’ll do the same.”

Tammy Duckworth (D-IL): “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice. #Kennedy”

Maggie Hassan (D-NH): “Any nominee for Supreme Court justice must be committed to protecting the rights of all Americans – including the reproductive rights of women – not just focused on protecting corporate special interests and the powerful few. I also continue to believe that Supreme Court nominees should have broad support from both parties and be able to clear a 60-vote threshold. A strong and independent judiciary that is above politics and willing to stop abuses of power is more important than ever, given that the current President regularly disregards established democratic norms and voices contempt for constitutional safeguards.”

Martin Heinrich (D-NM): “I will not look favorably on any Supreme Court nomination from this President unless “advice and consent” means something again in the Senate and both parties have a seat at the table for Supreme Court confirmations.”

Mazie Hirono (D-HI): “Should there be hearings, I will exercise my Constitutional duty to determine whether any nominee appointed will respect the law, the Constitution, and American values.”

Amy Klobuchar (D-MN): “The 5-4 decisions of the past few weeks demonstrate how important this seat on the bench is to the decisions made by the Supreme Court. Justice Kennedy has been the pivotal swing vote in important cases that have changed the lives of millions of Americans – from marriage equality to women’s rights. He should be replaced by someone who will see both sides of the issues and make a decision based on legal precedent, not someone who will vote solely on the basis of ideology.”

Patrick Leahy (D-VT): “I urge this President to change course and to consider the rights of all Americans, not just a few. I urge him to abandon his ‘short-list’ of far-right, special interest-approved nominees. Under the McConnell Rule, there is no rush to fill this seat. The American people deserve a chance to have their voices heard. I urge the President to show the courage that President Obama displayed and to use the coming months to find a consensus, mainstream nominee who can receive bipartisan support in the Senate.

Joe Manchin (D-WV): “Senators have a responsibility to do our jobs as elected officials and this includes our Constitutional obligation to advise and consent on a nominee to fill this Supreme Court vacancy.”

Bob Menendez (D-NJ): “The American people must demand that the President’s nominee reflects Justice Kennedy’s legacy as a voice for both moderation and progress.”

Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH): “It’s important that whoever the President nominates to replace Justice Kennedy does not jeopardize progress on women’s reproductive, LGBTQ and civil rights. In particular, any nominee should uphold the precedent of Roe v. Wade. I will only support a nominee within the mainstream of judicial thought who will protect Constitutional rights and freedoms. I strongly urge the President to nominate a non-ideological candidate who will fairly interpret the Constitution, and I encourage Granite Staters and all Americans to make their voices heard to send a clear message that we’re not going to go backwards as a nation.”

Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI): “On the heels of another Supreme Court term defined by a Republican 5-4 majority delivering big wins for right-wing and corporate interests, Justice Kennedy’s retirement should be a wake-up call to anyone who cares about equality and justice for all.  With decisions like we’ve seen this week, the American people ought to be on high alert to this troubling pattern.  I’ll do everything in my power to keep President Trump, Senator McConnell, and their dark-money backers from installing another nominee predetermined to assist the wealthy and powerful.”

Ron Wyden (D-OR): “I fully expect the president’s nominee to receive the same consideration that Merrick Garland received.”

TPM will update this list as more information becomes available. 

H/t MSNBC’s Garrett Haake.

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) on Wednesday urged Republicans to follow Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-KY) 2016 precedent and wait until after upcoming elections to consider a nominee to fill retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat.

“Our Republican colleagues in the Senate should follow the rule they set in 2016 not to consider a Supreme Court justice in an election year,” he said. “Sen. McConnell would tell anyone who listened that the Senate had the right to advise and consent, and that was every bit as important as the President’s right to nominate. Millions of people are just months away from determining the senators who should vote to confirm or reject the President’s nominee, and their voices deserve to be heard now as Leader McConnell thought they should deserve to be heard then.”

Anything but that would be the absolute height of hypocrisy,” he added.

In 2016, McConnell and Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat, Merrick Garland. Instead, the seat was held open for months following Garland’s March 2016 nomination, until President Donald Trump had assumed office and nominated Neil Gorsuch for the seat.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Wednesday said the Senate would vote to fill retiring Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy’s seat “this fall.”

“The Senate stands ready to fulfill its constitutional role by offering its advise and consent on President Trump’s nominee to fill this vacancy,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

“We will vote to confirm Justice Kennedy’s successor this fall,” he said.

He added:

As in the case of Justice Gorsuch, senators will have the opportunity to meet with President Trump’s nominee, examine his or her qualifications and debate the nomination. I have every confidence in Chairman Grassley’s conduct of the upcoming confirmation process in the Judiciary Committee. It’s imperative that the President’s nominee be considered fairly and not subjected to personal attacks. Thus far President Trump’s judicial nominations have reflected a keen understanding of the vital role the judges play in our constitutional order. Judges must interpret the law fairly and apply it evenhandedly. Judicial decisions must not flow from judges’ personal philosophies or preferences, but from an honest assessment of the words and actual meaning of the law. This bedrock principal is clearly defined in the president’s excellent choices to date. So we’ll look forward to yet another outstanding selection, but today the Senate and the nation thank Justice Kennedy for his years of service on the bench and for his many contributions to jurisprudence and to our nation. 

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Alice Ollstein contributed reporting.

Despite a federal judge’s ruling that migrant families separated by Trump administration policy must be reunited, and despite activists on the ground saying the government has stopped systematically prosecuting parents apprehended at the the border, a DOJ spokesperson told TPM Wednesday: “The Justice Department’s zero tolerance policy is still in effect.”

But how?

The policy, announced by Attorney General Jeff Sessions in April, called for the criminal prosecution of everyone who had been apprehended at the border by the Department of Homeland Security and subsequently referred to DOJ.

Because children cannot be held in criminal detention, “zero tolerance” meant, in effect, that children would be systematically separated from their parents after being apprehended at the border.

And until last week, when President Donald Trump signed an executive order with the stated intent of keeping families detained indefinitely as parents proceed through criminal proceedings, that’s just what happened: DHS referred everyone, including parents, for prosecution.

But after Trump signed his executive order, the referral process changed: DHS (which houses Customs and Border Protection, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement) mostly stopped referring parents.

“In accordance with the Executive Order, I [CBP] ordered the temporary suspension of referrals for prosecutions for those who don’t have a criminal history, or child safety or welfare issues, medical need, while we work through a process with DOJ to maintain family unity while enforcing prosecution efforts,” CBP Commissioner Kevin McAleenan said in a statement Wednesday to TPM.

It differed from a similar statement quoted by outlets like the Washington Post and Los Angeles Times on Monday, in which McAleenan said he’d “directed the temporary suspension of prosecutions for families in that category.”

That minor distinction — the difference between CBP stopping its referrals of parents for prosecution, and DOJ prosecuting them — played out in a series of Washington Post headlines last week, a day after Trump’s order.

“U.S. will stop prosecuting parents who cross the border illegally with children, official says” an early headline blared.

Then, as the Justice Department objected, the headline changed: “Border Patrol will stop referring migrant parents who cross into the U.S. illegally with children for prosecution, official says”

Then it changed again: “Reversal on migrant families deepens confusion over Trump’s immigration order.”

It sure did. The wordplay was rather technical and yet profound, allowing the Justice Department to claim that, just like the President wanted, it was continuing its “zero tolerance” policy.

And, given that DHS does not have the capacity, nor the legal authority, to hold families together in detention indefinitely, the decision not to prosecute parents for prosecution necessarily meant one of two things: Non-asylum-seeking families, or members of families, would be deported; or families would be granted supervised release while awaiting their civil immigration proceedings.

As of now, we’ve seen both, including detained parents who say they’ve signed voluntary deportation orders in exchange for the shaky promise that they’ll be reunited with their children before they’re deported.

DOJ did not elaborate, when asked, on CBP Commissioner McAleenan’s statement that CBP was “work[ing] through a process with DOJ to maintain family unity while enforcing prosecution efforts.” 

McAleenan told TPM in a separate statement: “We’re [DHS] working with DOJ on how we can streamline the process where we can have the parent prosecuted and still only separate the child for a few hours or less.”

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Former Fox News Co-President Bill Shine, who was an ally of the network’s late CEO Roger Ailes, has accepted a job as the White House deputy chief of staff for communications, ABC News reported Wednesday, citing multiple unnamed sources.

The New York Times first reported earlier Wednesday, citing two unnamed people familiar with the decision, that Shine was likely to be named White House communications director.

Shine left Fox News in May last year amid accusations that he helped cover up a number of sexual harassment allegations at the company.

In a 2016 lawsuit, former Fox News anchor Andrea Tantaros accused former Fox News star Bill O’Reilly and Ailes of sexual harassment, and Shine and others of looking the other way and pressuring her to drop her complaints. A judge ruled that the suit was covered by the arbitration clause in Tantaros’ contract.

In a subsequent suit, which was dismissed after a year, Tantaros accused Shine and others of using sophisticated hacking and surveillance techniques, in addition to “sock puppet” social media accounts, to monitor and harass her.

In April of last year, Fox News contributor Julie Roginsky accused Ailes of sexual harassment in a lawsuit, and accused Shine of retaliating against her when she refused or complained about Ailes’ harassment.

“Shine aided and abetted Ailes’ acts of retaliation and harassment,” Roginsky claimed in her suit, which was eventually settled.

O’Reilly on Wednesday broadcast his support in a tweet:

This post has been updated.

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Rep. Steve King (R-IA), who two weeks ago retweeted a neo-Nazi’s call to stop “mass immigration,” refused on Tuesday to delete the tweet or apologize for sharing the hate leader’s message.

“It’s unjust to simply put a politically correct bridle on someone and say, ‘You’ve got to do a background check on everybody that ever tweets something out before you can ever agree with a single sentence that they might put out,'” King told CNN in an interview. “And by the way I didn’t even know it was his message. I thought it was a Breitbart message.”

Regardless, the congressman, whose racist comments have made headlines frequently during his 15-year congressional tenure, refused to take down the message.

“I am aware of many leftists that are attacking me, trying to get me to take this down,” he told CNN’s Chris Cuomo later on Wednesday. “I’m not taking it down. It was simply a Breitbart story that I tweeted. It had a guy’s name on it that I had never heard of. Now a lot of people have heard his name. It’s going to stay on my website as long as it takes, it’s going to go into the rearview mirror.”

Republican leadership stayed silent after King’s tweet on June 12. TPM’s requests for comment to House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), the National Republican Congressional Committee and the Republican National Committee went unanswered.

On Tuesday, Ryan broke his silence through a spokesperson, with a message to the Daily Beast’s Sam Stein: “The speaker has said many times that Nazis have no place in our politics, and clearly members should not engage with anyone promoting hate.”

King didn’t seem to take that personally.

“Paul Ryan didn’t say anything,” he told Cuomo. “His spokesperson made a general comment that didn’t even have my name in it.”

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House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) on Tuesday accused Rep. Maxine Waters of calling for violence against her political opponents, even though Waters has rejected that assertion multiple times.

“There’s no place for this,” Ryan said, unprompted, at a press conference Tuesday. “She obviously should apologize. When we in this democracy are suggesting that because we disagree with people on political views, on policy views, on philosophical views, that we should resort to violence and harassment and intimidation, that’s dangerous for our society, it’s dangerous for our democracy.”

“She should apologize, and there’s just no place for that in our public discourse.”

Ryan also cited House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA), who was shot and seriously injured at a congressional baseball practice last year. Without naming Waters specifically, Scalise had warned earlier Tuesday against “inciting harassment or violence of any sort just because we disagree with each other on issues.”

On Saturday, responding to news that White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had been asked to leave a restaurant Friday night, Waters celebrated the move and called for more public shaming of members of the Trump administration.

“If you see anybody from that Cabinet in a restaurant, in a department store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd,” Waters said at a “Keep Families Together” rally in Los Angeles, a protest of the Trump administration’s migrant family separation policy. “And you push back on them. And you tell them they’re not welcome anymore, anywhere.”

Trump later attacked Waters in a tweet, insulting her intelligence and saying: “She has just called for harm to supporters, of which there are many, of the Make America Great Again movement. Be careful what you wish for Max!”

Waters called that another lie from Trump, and later told MSNBC’s Chris Hayes on Monday: “I would not in any way support any violence, anybody being hit or beaten, or then saying to them, ‘I’ll help to get you out of jail.’ This president is guilty of all of that.” 

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Former Trump deputy campaign manager and Citizens United president David Bossie has been suspended from Fox News airwaves for two weeks after he told a black Democratic strategist “you’re out of your cotton-pickin’ mind” on Sunday, the Daily Beast reported Monday.

Bossie made the comment to fellow “Fox & Friends Weekend” guest Joel Payne.

“I’ve got some relatives who picked cotton, and I’m not going to sit here and allow you to attack me like that on TV,” Payne responded.

Bossie seemed to take issue with Payne’s protest.

“This is ridiculous,” he said. “This is what’s gone on in America. This is what we’re about. Ed, this is outrageous.”

Earlier in the conversation, Bossie used half of the phrase to refer to critics of the President who compare the Trump administration to Nazi rule in Germany.

“These people have lost their ever-pickin’ minds,” he said.

Bossie later apologized on Twitter:

“David Bossie’s comments today were deeply offensive and wholly inappropriate,” a statement from the network Sunday read. “His remarks do not reflect the sentiments of Fox News and we do not in any way condone them.”

TPM has reached out to the network to confirm the news of Bossie’s suspension. 

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White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Monday addressed being kicked out of a restaurant over the weekend.

“We are allowed to disagree but we should be able to do so freely and without fear of harm, and this goes for all people regardless of politics,” Sanders said.

She connected that night to comments from Rep. Maxine Waters (D-CA) Saturday and actor Peter Fonda a week ago.

“Some have chosen to push hate and vandalism against the restaurant that I was asked to leave from,” Sanders said. “A Hollywood actor publicly encouraged people to kidnap my children. And this weekend a member of Congress called for people to push back and make clear to those serving their country in this administration that they are not welcome anywhere, any time, for anything.”

“Healthy debate on ideas and political philosophy is important, but the calls for harassment and push for any Trump supporter to avoid the public is unacceptable.”

She could have included Trump in her list of examples of harassment: The President warned Waters in a tweet Monday to “Be careful what you wish for Max!”

Instead, Sanders mentioned America’s “ability to find solutions despite [our] disagreements” and said: “That is exactly what President Trump has done for all Americans” with his economic and foreign policy record.

Watch below:

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