U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Supreme Court (Photo: Diego M. Radzinschi/ NLJ)

President Barack Obama told Democratic donors Wednesday that U.S. Supreme Court nominations hang in the balance of this year’s midterm elections.

Speaking at a Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee fundraiser, Obama linked the party’s goal—keeping control of the Senate—to a number of policy issues and to who might eventually sit on the nation’s highest court.

“If you care about women getting equal pay for equal work or having control over their health care decisions, or who is in the Supreme Court determining those laws, you better hope Democrats stay in the Senate,” Obama said at the fundraiser in Virginia, according to a White House transcript.

“If you care about making sure that we’re investing in early childhood education and continuing to reform our schools to make them serve every child, you better make sure that we still have Democrats in control of the Senate,” Obama said. “And that’s why this is so important to me.”

Obama’s mention of the Supreme Court hints that the high court could become part of the Democratic push this election season.

The issue merited only one mention in a debate during the 2012 presidential campaign, and only then between the vice presidential candidates, even though special interest groups speculated on the implications of potential retirements and the election’s outcome.

Since that election, however, the Senate has changed rules about judicial nominees when it comes to executive and judicial nominations—other than those picks for the Supreme Court.

Some congressional watchers have predicted the move meant Democrats had opened the door to changing the filibuster rules for Supreme Court nominees as well. Others say the nominations are too high profile for that to happen.

Contact Todd Ruger at truger@truger.com.