Senate Republican leader starts clock ticking to showdown on Gorsuch

Cheryl Sanders
April 5, 2017

Forty-one Democratic senators have now publicly announced they intend to block the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court with a filibuster.

Before the vote, Senator Christopher Coons, a member of the panel, became the 41st Democrat to announce support for a procedural hurdle called a filibuster requiring a super-majority of 60 votes in the 100-seat Senate to allow a confirmation vote.

On an 11-to-9 party line vote, the Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday sent Gorsuch's nomination to the Senate floor, where it is expected to be met with staunch opposition from Democrats.

"If you are filibustering [Gorsuch] as a Democrat that just means that you don't accept the fact that President Trump won and this is the end of the qualification standard to be on the Supreme Court", said Republican Sen. No one in the Senate Republican Conference has ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee.

"I was in the Senate when the Republicans" stonewalling around appointments caused Senate Democratic majority to switch the vote threshold on appointments from 60 to 51. He said he would support the rule change "because we need to confirm Gorsuch".

TOTENBERG: Republican Lindsey Graham, who was among a handful of Republicans who voted for President Obama's two successful Supreme Court nominees, had this assessment of what the future holds.

Trump was able to make the nomination because Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), in an unprecedented move, refused to consider President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the seat.

"Democrats, including me, are still furious at the way Judge Merrick Garland was treated a year ago".

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer said: "What the majority leader did to Merrick Garland by denying him a hearing and a vote is even worse than a filibuster". A Democrat, his party colleagues have lined up to oppose the Gorsuch nomination.

Idaho may ultimately be one of the losers when the Senate further weakens minority interests.

Senator Charles Grassley, Republican, the committee's chairman, accused Democrats of searching in vain for credible reasons to vote against Gorsuch.

Gorsuch has such solid credentials that the American Bar Association unanimously rated him "well qualified" to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court - its highest rating.

Menendez said a mainstream conservative nominee would have no problem gaining 60 votes, and that if Gorsuch can't, the solution is for Trump to nominate someone who would.

"I think it's a dark day in the history of the United States Senate".

Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins of ME, who has endorsed Gorsuch, last week urged Democrats to abandon their move to block his nomination, calling him "unquestionably qualified". Just as the almost year-long blockade to prevent a vote on Garland set a precedent - one that the party will likely come to regret - eliminating the ability to filibuster a SCOTUS nominee very well may be another rash move that will haunt them in the future.

A filibuster of Gorsuch, whose background includes Harvard Law School, Oxford College, and a decade on the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, exposes the Senate as so mired in partisanship that it can no longer operate under the traditional rules. Donnelly is, too, stating in a release issued Sunday that he was "deeply disappointed by the way the most recent Supreme Court nominee, Judge Garland, was treated by the Senate". As it stands, the court is split with four conservative justices and four liberals. And the process has been drawn out further by Republican senators' refusal to even meet with President Obama's nominee, much less hold an actual hearing to fill the vacancy.

The National Rifle Association is also trying to leverage next year's elections.

Modern use of the filibuster has frustrated presidents of both parties.

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