- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Tuesday said he had concerns over President Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court on Tuesday, setting up what is likely to be a long and contentious confirmation process for the judge.
“The burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream,” Schumer said in a statement issued moments after Trump revealed his pick.
“Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice.”
It was a predicable take for Schumer, who has vowed since Trump’s election in November that he will fight any nominee outside of what he considers the mainstream.
He was joined by several other Democrats incensed over their Republican counterparts’ refusal to hold a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, the Supreme Court nominee Barack Obama proposed to fill the seat of the late Antonin Scalia.
Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon told Politico on Monday he would filibuster any Trump pick that was not Garland. If Democrats do employ the filibuster, Republicans would need a 60-vote supermajority to confirm Gorsuch. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate. On Tuesday, Merkley accused Republicans of “packing” the high court.
“This strategy of packing the court, if successful, could threaten fundamental rights in America, including workers’ right to organize, women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections rather than being drowned out by the corrupting influence of dark money from the richest Americans,” Merkley said.
Republicans, in turn, could apply the “nuclear” option – changing the Senate’s rules to disallow the filibuster. But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has expressed reticence to go that route in media appearances this month.
“When the Senate previously confirmed him to the appellate court, the bipartisan support in the Senate was so overwhelming, a roll call vote was not even required,” he said Tuesday. “I hope members of the Senate will again show him fair consideration and respect the result of the recent election with an up-or-down vote on his nomination, just like the Senate treated the four first-term nominees of Presidents Clinton and Obama.”
Schumer foreshadowed a Democratic filibuster in his statement on Tuesday.
“The Senate must insist upon 60-votes for any Supreme Court nominee, a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees,” he said.
Schumer wasn’t the only Democratic senator to blast Trump’s nominee on Tuesday – Sens. Chris Murphy, Sherrod Brown, Richard Blumenthal, and more all issued similarly worded statements criticizing Gorsuch following Trump’s announcement. House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi also signaled opposition, saying Gorsuch was “hostile to women’s rights.”
Read Schumer’s full statement below:
A little more than a week into the Trump presidency, the new Administration has violated our core values, challenged the separation of powers, and tested the very fabric of our Constitution in unprecedented fashion. It is clear that the Supreme Court will be tried in ways that few Courts have been tested since the earliest days of the Republic, when Constitutional questions abounded.
Now more than ever, we need a Supreme Court Justice who is independent, eschews ideology, who will preserve our democracy, protect fundamental rights, and will stand up to a President who has already shown a willingness to bend the Constitution.
The Senate must insist upon 60-votes for any Supreme Court nominee, a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees. The burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and, in this new era, willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the Executive branch and protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all Americans.
Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard. Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women’s rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice on the Court.
Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice.