Democrats Announce Plan for Gorsuch Filibuster
Evan WiltReligious persecution, missions, Christianity around the world
- 2017 Mar 27
The Senate’s top Democrat said on March 23 he’s committed to filibustering Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
“After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said. “His nomination will have a cloture vote; he will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be ‘no.’ And I urge my colleagues to do the same.”
Schumer’s opposition is no surprise, but his decision to push for a filibuster before Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing is even complete changes the political landscape. When President Donald Trump first announced the Gorsuch nomination, Schumer and other Democrats said they would give him a fair shot to win their support. But Schumer’s announcement means that window has closed and Democrats may force Republicans to change Senate rules to get Gorsuch on the bench.
Republicans outnumber the minority 52-48, but they still need at least eight Democrats on board to block a filibuster and move to a full vote.
After watching Gorsuch during this week’s hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said if Gorsuch can’t win safe passage to the Supreme Court, he’s not sure anyone can.
“If they don’t find Gorsuch acceptable, are they taking the position that the vacancy should never be filled at all?” McConnell asked. “If Judge Gorsuch can’t achieve 60 votes in the Senate, could any judge appointed by a Republican president be approved with 60 or more votes in the Senate?”
In 2013, then Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed Senate rules to confirm judges by a simple majority vote but left in place the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees. If Schumer successfully whips his caucus to block Gorsuch, McConnell hasn’t ruled out scrapping the 60-vote rule for high court nominees—a move commonly called “the nuclear option.”
McConnell vowed he would complete Gorsuch’s nomination process—by any means necessary—before lawmakers leave town for Easter recess on April 8.
Schumer said he can’t support Gorsuch because the judge has not convinced him he will be an independent check on the president. Gorsuch told the Senate Judiciary Committee this week he will have no difficulty ruling against Trump or anyone else, if confirmed.
Hoping to avoid the nuclear option, the Judicial Crisis Network launched a $10 million ad campaign to pressure vulnerable Democrats into supporting Gorsuch.
Election Day exit polls showed more than one-fifth of voters said the Supreme Court was a primary influence on their vote, and a majority of that group swung for Trump. Next year, 10 Democratic senators are up for reelection in states Trump won.
On Thursday morning, Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., one of those 10 Senate Democrats, said he’s not feeling the pressure and will join Schumer’s filibuster. “I don’t believe that Judge Gorsuch, his judicial approach, would ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania and indeed across the country, and I will not support his nomination.”
Carrie Severino, Judicial Crisis Network chief counsel, called Casey’s move irrational.
“Democrats are proving that they are totally unreasonable when it comes to judicial nominations, and that they will obstruct anyone who does not promise to rubber stamp their political agenda from the bench,” Severino said.
Courtesy: WORLD News Service
Photo: Judge Neil Gorsuch testifies during the third day of his Supreme Court confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the Hart Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill, March 22, 2017 in Washington. Gorsuch was nominated by President Donald Trump to fill the vacancy left on the court by the February 2016 death of Associate Justice Antonin Scalia.
Photo courtesy: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
Publication date: March 27, 2017