It has long been suspected that Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, would not get a fair hearing from Democrats in Congress. Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed it.
In a speech on the floor of the Senate Thursday, Schumer formally announced his “no” vote on Gorsuch. He also said he and other Democrats intend to filibuster his nomination. That sets up a possible political showdown between Democrats and Republicans, which could lead to a changing of the rules to secure Gorsuch a seat on the High Court.
“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and George Bush’s last two nominees — the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee,” he said.
It is not clear that Democrats have the votes to block Gorsuch and to keep Republicans from changing the chamber’s way of doing business. But Schumer’s announcement is likely to further politicize an already divided Congress. In the last 47 years of Supreme Court nominations — spanning the appointments of the 16 most recent justices — only Samuel A. Alito Jr. was forced to clear the 60-vote procedural hurdle to break a filibuster.
In a Senate floor speech, Schumer said that Gorsuch “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on Trump. He said later that the judge is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology. He was groomed by the Federalist Society and has shown not one inch of difference between his views and theirs.”
Here is video of the remarks made by Chuck Schumer.
The push to filibuster Gorsuch seems largely motivated by Democrats angry over the nomination of Merrick Garland last year. Republicans controlling the Senate blocked consideration of Garland, President Obama’s pick to replace the late Antonin Scalia. They argued the incoming President should have the opportunity to fill the vacancy.
Even though Democrats unanimously supported Gorsuch’s appointment to the federal bench, they are now reversing course. They now call him too radical to serve. Despite a well-received nomination hearing, Democrats continue to marginalize Gorsuch. During the hearing, Democrats continually attempted to portray Gorsuch as biased and beholden to special interests. They pointed to several decisions that supported big business over individual workers.
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Schumer echoed the frustrations of Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee who have struggled to extract answers from Gorsuch this week on specific legal issues or past Supreme Court cases.
Gorsuch “declined to answer question after question after question with any substance. . . . All we have to judge the judge on is his record,” Schumer said.
In addition to Schumer, Sens. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) also announced on Thursday that they would filibuster Gorsuch. Both are up for reelection next year. Casey is one of 10 Democratic senators running next year from states that Trump won in the presidential election and who are facing increased pressure from Republicans to work with them on the president’s priorities.
It should be noted that two of President Obama’s Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, each reached the 60-vote threshold. In those cases, Republicans refused to filibuster and allowed an up-and-down vote.