WASHINGTON Democrats know they dont have the votes to stop Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch from clearing his Senate confirmation hearing, which begins Monday. But they dont appear to have a strategy, or even the energy, for a coordinated fight against President Donald Trumps conservative tribunal pick.
Chalk it up to Trumps chaotic administration, or to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumers low-key approach. Democrat merely havent treated Gorsuchs nomination as the kind of high-profile ideological combat that Supreme court choices traditionally bring about. Even in the working day leading up the hearing, its feel more like an afterthought on Capitol Hill.
I hope the questions are good, Sen. Dianne Feinstein( Calif .), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday when asked about her supposes heading into the hearing. Asked if there are any particular issues she plans to press Gorsuch on, she responded, Not right now.
Progressive advocacy groups have been demanding a real fight against Gorsuch, who, as an appellate magistrate on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10 th Circuit, constructed a record of resisting reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, workers rights, immigrants rights and environmental protections.
Led by NARAL Pro-Choice America, 11 organizations sent a letter to Senate Democratsthis month torching them for having failed to demonstrate a strong, unified resistance to this nominee, despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic liberties. We need you to do better.
They also delivered more than 1 million petitions to the Senate urging Democrats to oppose Donald Trumps extreme anti-choice Supreme court nominee.
Democrats on the committee certainly plan to ask tough questions of Gorsuch. Theyre only all over the place.
We can use these hearings to put the spotlight on big special interests, said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse( D-R.I .). The test for Gorsuch is: is he willing to dissociate himself from them? In my view, the burden is on him to persuade us of that fact, particularly given that big special interests are expending tens of millions in dark money to try to help him get on the court.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal( D-Conn .) said he plans to pack in as many questions as possible, on as many topics as possible, because Gorsuch hasnt devoted him clear answers on things hes asked him about.
Workers protections. Consumer rights. Women health care. Privacy rights. The independence of members of the judiciary, said Blumenthal, who made news last monthwhen disclosing that Gorsuch told him in private that he found Trumps attacks on magistrates who ruled against his travel ban demoralizing. In the wake of those comments, and pushback by the White House, Schumer wrote in a New York Times op-ed that the episode only raises concerns about his independence.
I will be pressing him and aggressively questioning him on all of these issues because he has an obligation to come clean with the American people before he presumes a lifetime appointment on the nations highest court, Blumenthal said.
Theres so many issues, I dont know where to start, added Sen. Dick Durbin( D-Ill .). A contemporary issue is the relationship between the executive heads and members of the judiciary. I think thats going to be tested again and again by this president.
But some proponents arent sure Democrat have it in their own homes to put Gorsuch on the defensive. And Gorsuch has been preparing judiciously to satisfied whatever curveballs the Senate Judiciary Committee may throw his way.
I dont guess the Democrats are going to get him to say things that are wildly objectionable, said Drew Courtney, a spokesman for People for the American Way, an organization that has long been involved in Supreme Court nomination battles. Courtney said senators would be best served by focusing on his record.
In an attempt to crystallize their strategy, Democrats this past week unveiled something of an offensive on Capitol Hill, seeming alongside sympathetic plaintiffs who have been on the receiving aim of a Gorsuch opinion. The goal, in Schumers terms, is to paint this judge as someone who sided with the powerful against the powerless.
But not everyone is convinced that the little guy approach is the right tack to utilize against Gorsuch. Some say its relatively easy to rebut that debate: One of the magistrates more popular opinions on immigration, a topic thats central to Trumps agenda discovered favor with an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. The decision effectively prevented the mans deportation.
I dont believe[ Gorsuch] is going to do everything President Trump thinks he will do in his favor, said Timothy Cook, the Oklahoma lawyer who represented the immigrant in that case. He added that he guesses Gorsuch would be a good Supreme Court justice.
Progressive senators, like Elizabeth Warren( D-Mass .) and Jeff Merkley( D-Ore .), have already said theyll oppose Gorsuchs confirmation in the full Senate. But many are waiting to see how he handles himself in the hearing before deciding how theyll vote, though theyre skeptical.
Gorsuch clearly has aconservative record on the bench some commentators have find he is even more conservative than the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who hed be replacing on the Supreme Court. He was among thoseon a listing of magistrates Trump announced during the campaign that was assembled with the help of The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation, two prominent conservative groups.
He has a very high bar to clear, both in proving that he can be an independent check on the executive heads and that he will give less powerful plaintiffs a fair shake before the Supreme Court, told a Senate Democratic leadership aide. Democrats are going to push him hard to answer direct questions on both of those topics.
If his reply are anything like theyve been in private meetings, he isnt going to win anyone over, added the aide.
We need you to do better.” The message progressive groups delivered to Senate Democrats regarding their fight against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Gorsuch will need some Democratic supporting, which he did get in 2006 when he was unanimously confirmed to the 10 th Circuit. It takes 60 elections to advance his nomination in the Senate, and there are only 52 Republicans. If Republican cant made 60, its possible that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell( R-Ky .) will eliminate that so-called filibuster regulation altogether. If that happens, Gorsuch was able to need 51 referendums to be confirmed. Democrat, for now, are relying on that regulation for leverage.
I will use every tool available, including the filibuster, to oppose him, Blumenthal said this week. We will use every tool at our disposal.
Out of tradition, one Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet( Colo .), will introduce Gorsuch on Monday alongside fellow Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner( R ), according to Politico. At least one other senator up for re-election in 2018, Joe Manchin( D-W.Va .), has said hesopen to voting for Gorsuch.
Thats not acceptable to some of their progressive friends. In a call with reporters earlier this month, some groups warned that Senate Democrats will pay a price if they help Gorsuch get confirmed.
We want the Democrats to act as the opposition party , not as the minority party, told Murshed Zaheed, political director of Credo Action. Those who support him will permanently injury his or her political career.
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