Published: Tue, April 04, 2017
USA | By Angel Wallace

Democrats secure enough votes to block Supreme Court nominee - for the moment

Democrats secure enough votes to block Supreme Court nominee - for the moment

There has never been a successful filibuster of a nominee for associate justice in the history of the republic - and the idea that Gorsuch should be the first is patently absurd.

Democrats now have the votes they need to filibuster Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court - prompting a showdown with their Republican colleagues who have vowed to change the Senate's rules in order to get him a seat on the bench.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 to approve Gorsuch's nomination Monday afternoon, setting the stage for the full Senate vote later this week. As expected, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not backed down from his pledge to invoke the "nuclear option" and get rid of the filibuster altogether via a Senate rules change, which requires only a simple-majority vote.

"I hope every person on the committee can look at it", said Graham.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) - one of the three Democrats who have said they will not filibuster Gorsuch's nomination - echoed McCain's worries.

Perez additionally said Gorsuch's past rulings show a "long record of cruel rulings that favor powerful and corporate interests over individuals".

Democrats are still embittered that while Justice Antonin Scalia died last February on President Obama's watch, the Republican Senate majority refused to move on the Democratic president's pick, Judge Merrick Garland, citing the looming presidential election previous year.

"If Judge Gorsuch fails to garner 60 votes, the answer isn't to irrevocably change the rules of the Senate; the answer is to change the nominee", Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said last week.

But Gorsuch's journey to the highest court in the land still faces another major roadblock. It could also mean that Trump and future presidents will not have to be as concerned about compromising with the minority party when nominating Supreme Court justices.

In addition to Gorsuch, the Judiciary Committee approved two other nominations - Rod Rosenstein to be deputy attorney general and Rachel Brand to be associate attorney general.

Democrats gained the 41 votes needed for sustaining a filibuster earlier Monday after Sens. So far, 40 Democrats have publicly said they will try to block Gorsuch's nomination.

While Kaine lauded Gorsuch's for his professional and educational background, he said a nominee to the Supreme Court must also demonstrate sound judicial philosophy. Michael Bennet won't support a filibuster of Judge Neil Gorsuch, describing Democratic efforts to block the Colorado native as taking the Senate in the "wrong direction".

"There was simply no reason that the nomination of Judge Garland could not proceed, other than to deny the then-president of the United States, President Barack Obama, the ability to fill the seat", Feinstein said.

She disagreed with his interpretation of whether a trucking employee should be fired, after the driver refused to drive a disabled rig through a blizzard.

"Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week", McConnell said. But argued that he must vote his conscience, even if that pushed Republicans toward the rules change.

Flake added that he wished the Senate could "change the behavior of senators" rather than change the filibuster rule, "but I think we are where we are". He called Gorsuch's approach to responding to the committee "patronising". "That is a disservice to the American people". Leahy's office made clear he would back a filibuster.

"The nominee's opponents have tried to find a fault with him that will stick".

"With Judge Gorsuch on the bench, I am deeply concerned that dark money will continue to drown out the voices and votes of citizens, the court will stand between women and their doctors, and the government will reach into the private lives of law-abiding Americans". And they must ask themselves if he will be a fair and impartial justice, or whether he'll put his thumb on the scale for the wealthy and the powerful.

Republicans control the Senate 52-48.

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