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Senate Democrats Amass Support For Gorsuch Filibuster

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Senate Democrats Amass Support For Gorsuch Filibuster

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Gorsuch filibuster

 

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Democrats on Monday amassed enough support to block a U.S. Senate confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, but Republicans vowed to change the Senate rules to ensure the conservative judge gets the lifetime job.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 along party lines to send Gorsuch’s nomination to the full Senate, setting up a political showdown between Trump’s fellow Republicans and the opposition Democrats that appears likely to trigger a change in long-standing Senate rules to allow his confirmation.

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.

The Senate’s Republican leaders insist Gorsuch will be confirmed on the Senate floor on Friday regardless of what the Democrats do. Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate.

In the face of the filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell would be expected to force a confirmation vote by having the Senate change its rules and allow for a simple majority vote for confirmation of Supreme Court justices, a move sometimes called the “nuclear option” that Trump has urged.

Judiciary Committee Republicans blasted Democrats for pursuing what they called the first “partisan filibuster” of a Supreme Court nominee – there was a successful bipartisan filibuster five decades ago against a Democratic president’s nominee – and said it would come to naught because of the threatened rule change.

But it was Senate Republicans who last year refused to even consider Democratic former President Barack Obama’s nomination of appellate judge Merrick Garland to fill the same high court vacancy that Trump has selected Gorsuch to fill.

“Democrats, including me, are still furious at the way Judge Merrick Garland was treated last year. But the traditions and principles that have defined the Senate are crumbling and we are poised to hasten that destruction this week,” Coons said.

Coons left room for a compromise, in which Democrats would allow the vote to go ahead in return for Republicans agreeing to a 60-vote threshold for the next Supreme Court vacancy.

“So for my part, I hope and pray that we can yet find a way together to find a solution,” Coons added.

Senate confirmation of Gorsuch, 49, would restore the nine-seat high court’s conservative majority, fulfilling one of Trump’s top campaign promises. Trump in January nominated Gorsuch, a conservative appeals court judge from Colorado, to the lifetime job as a justice. He could be expected to serve for decades.

Gorsuch was nominated to fill a vacancy created by the February 2016 death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.

Republicans control the White House and Congress for the first time in a decade. The inability of Senate Republicans to coax enough Democratic support to avoid the “nuclear option” reflected the intense partisan divide in Washington and the Trump administration’s failure to win the cooperation of the opposition party.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer accused Democrats of partisan obstruction that sets “a very dangerous precedent” and told a briefing that “we’re obviously disappointed that the overwhelming majority of them are still playing politics with the nation’s highest court.” Spicer said the decision on the “nuclear option” rested with McConnell.

The committee’s chairman, Republican Chuck Grassley, defended Gorsuch as a mainstream jurist worthy of confirmation. Committee Republican John Kennedy called Gorsuch “a legal rock star” and a “thoroughbred.”

Democratic Senators Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s top Democrat, and Mark Warner, not a member of the panel, also announced opposition to Gorsuch on Monday and support for a filibuster.

The actual confirmation vote would be by a simple majority if the filibuster is stopped. To date, three Democrats have come out in support of Gorsuch, and the Republicans would have needed to secure eight Democratic votes to kill a Gorsuch filibuster.

With the failure of Republican healthcare legislation in Congress and with courts blocking the president’s ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations from entering the United States, winning confirmation for Gorsuch has taken on even more importance for Trump.

Democrats have accused Gorsuch of being insufficiently independent of Trump, evading questions on key Supreme Court rulings of the past including on abortion and political spending, and favoring corporate interests over ordinary Americans.

Democratic Senator Michael Bennet, who represents the nominee’s home state of Colorado and introduced the nominee during his confirmation hearing, said he would oppose the Gorsuch filibuster effort but did not take a position on whether to vote in favor of the judge.

Feinstein said this was not a “routine nomination,” noting what happened to Garland.

“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.

Feinstein criticized Gorsuch’s rulings against a fired truck driver and an autistic child and faulted his actions as a lawyer in Republican former President George W. Bush’s Justice Department regarding detainee interrogation techniques critics called torture.

Feinstein also said she was disturbed by the millions of dollars of “dark money” from anonymous donors backing advertising and political advocacy by conservative groups to help Gorsuch win confirmation.

The 60-vote super-majority threshold that gives the minority party power to hold up the majority party has over the decades forced the Senate to try to achieve bipartisanship in legislation and in presidential appointments.

Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican committee member, expressed regret that his party would be forced to change the Senate rules and said the “damage done to the Senate’s going to be real.”

“If we have to, we will change the rules, and it looks like we’re going to have to. I hate that. I really, really do,” Graham said.

Senator Orrin Hatch, a committee Republican, said Democrats were acting under pressure from “the radical left.”

While Gorsuch’s opponents would fight a Senate rule change, it was the Democrats who in 2013 changed the Senate rules to limit filibusters after Republicans used the procedure against Obama’s appeals court nominees. The Senate, then led by Democrats, barred filibusters for executive branch nominees and federal judges aside from Supreme Court justices. Even if Republicans do change the rules, legislation, as opposed to appointments, would still need to meet a 60-vote threshold.

(Reporting by Lawrence Hurley; Additional reporting by Susan Heavey, Mohammad Zargham, Tim Ahmann and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Will Dunham)

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47 Comments

  1. Lynda Groom April 3, 2017

    I believe that the republicans are willing to overturn tradition and go nuclear. They seem unable to see into the future where the worm turns and they are on the losing end. McCain and a couple of others seem to get it, but they will go along with the majority when it comes to pulling the trigger.

    Reply
    1. itsfun April 4, 2017

      The worm has turned. This was all started by Harry Reid, not the Republicans.

      1. Lynda Groom April 4, 2017

        Not the same thing at all. Supreme Court appointees are life long jobs, which is why the 60 vote threshold was not touched. The previous change was required because far too many positions were not being considered or coming up for votes just for the sake of obstruction. You might want to think about why the process had to be changed by Reid…it was not done just for kicks. It was the republicans that brought it on by refusing to participate in the process. They’ve been whining and waiting for their time for revenge and they’ve finally got it. They would rather blow up the institution than work under the rules and traditions that have for the most part served the institution for decades. They are about to enter into the dismantling of procedures that will make the Senate more like the House…and that sure as hell is not a good thing. The Senate was designed to be the adult in the chamber, so everyone should take a deep breath and considere the consequences of their actions.

        1. itsfun April 4, 2017

          Federal judges are life time appointments too. You are accusing the Republicans of doing exactly what the Democrats did. You excuse the Democrats for doing those things. Is that because you can’t see both sides of anything? Reid changed the rules to get more liberal judges on the various benches. That is the only reason he did that. Don’t you think the Democrats whining about the Supreme Court Justice is the same thing? They are obstructing everything that President Trump is trying to do. Just look at how terrible the cabinet members were treated by the Democrats. Did you see the new DNC leader ranting and raving last week and using filthy language to try and get his points across? If that is the kind of person the Democrats choose to lead them, then the Republicans have nothing to worry about for a long time.

          1. Lynda Groom April 4, 2017

            Are you aware that 3 in 10 of all cloture votes in the Senate took place while McConnell was the minority leader. That’s 3 in 10 all cloture votes in the entire history of the Senate. Let that sink in for a moment or two.

            Filibusters during Clinton years: 9
            Filibusters during Bush years: 7
            Filibusters in Obama’s first term: 27

            Cloture votes filed during 2013-14 253, 218 votes, 187 invoked.

            As of Nov of 2013, 82 Obama nonimees blocked, 86 for all previous presidents. Of the total 49% came under Obama’s term. Take a moment to grasp the meaning of that number.

            Those are just a small part of the numbers involved that brought about the action of Senator Reid. It not just about Reid wanting to get ‘more liberal judges’ on board. This obstruction was about judicial and executive branch nonimees.

            Try looking at both sides before claiming that I’ve not looked at both myself.

          2. itsfun April 4, 2017

            This is the first Filibuster of a Supreme Court Justice in history. They didn’t filibuster the federal judges, they just voted against them. The Democrats are the party of obstruction and fake news. That party is exploding in front of our eyes.

          3. Lynda Groom April 4, 2017

            Indeed, after the unprecedented obstruction of the nominee by the republicans put forth by Obama in his last year. The majority leader would not let anything happen with Garland…do you seriously believe that was the proper workings of the Senat? No hearings, no vote for purely political reason. No up or down vote. Come on!

          4. itsfun April 4, 2017

            The Republicans used the Biden rule with Garland. Also Chuck Schumer agreed with that when Bush was in office. Only when the shoe was on the other foot did Schumer say it was a bad thing. Also, no rules were broken by not having a hearing for Garland. The Constitution does not put a time frame on hearings for a SC justice.

          5. Lynda Groom April 4, 2017

            Do you really believe that the majority leaders actions were in step with normal practice? The decision to obstruct Garland, while not rule breaking, has brought the Senate to this mess. The so called Biden rule is nonsense and not a reasonable excuse for the majorities miss use of their power. If they go nuke the Senate will only become more partisan, further dysfunction and more like the House. That is not healthy for the institution or the republic.

          6. itsfun April 5, 2017

            The Senate went nuke under Harry Reid. Both Biden and Schumer said the same things when we had President Bush. The Republicans are only going to do what Biden and Schumer said to do. The ACA got passed via the Nuclear option. Its okay with you if the left does that, but you whine and scream and rant and rave when the Republicans do the same things.

          7. Lynda Groom April 5, 2017

            If you wish to ignore the unprecedented use of the filibuster by the republicans and believe in false equivalency that is your choice.

          8. itsfun April 5, 2017

            If you wish to ignore the first ever filibuster against a supreme court justice and ignore the facts, that is your choice.

          9. Lynda Groom April 5, 2017

            Actually McConnell gave us a ‘pocket filibuster’ of Garland, just in case you failed to notice.

          10. itsfun April 5, 2017

            It was a term used after Biden said the Senate shouldn’t approve a Supreme Court Justice during a Presidential election year. You know that or you are just trying to be a as_hole.

    2. FT66 April 4, 2017

      If they have to decide to go nuclear, they must know thats killing the power of having a second chamber. What will be the use of having two chambers while both are doing the same thing and no difference in making their decisions on major issues like this one. Putting a person on a life long job especially at the Supreme Court, is a task that requires all of them (senators) to take very seriously.

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  2. Thoughtopsy April 3, 2017

    What did McConnell think was going to happen when he put Party over Country and the Constitution?

    He must have been fapping maniacally when Trump actually won, and he realised that he had successfully blocked Obama’s nominee and ensured He and Trump could steal that seat.

    What was he expecting the Democrats to do? Go: “Sure, Mitch… steal whatever you want. We’ll just tamely go along with it.”??
    Maybe he was? The Dems are constantly the adults in the room. Look at the Government shutdown.

    The Dems have finally realised a basic truth:
    The GOP will do ANYTHING for power and money.
    They will sell their country out.
    They will ignore the Constitution.
    They will lie point blank to the people.
    They will try to secretly gut the Congressional Ethics Office.
    They will demand incredible standards from Democrat politicians, investigate Hillary 9 times for the same thing, finally try to indict her for email management… then completely ignore Treason and Collusion on their own side… because it does not suit their goals… of power and money.

    Putin could have his hand directly up President Snowflake’s a$$, while he spouts random conspiracy theory gibberish, and as long as the Republicans get to keep power Ryan and McConnell would look the other way.
    How do I know?
    Because we’re nearly at that point now… and they are trying as hard as possible to not even COMMENT on it, much less demand investigations.

    Sad, traitorous, sacks of sh!t.

    Reply
    1. Karen April 4, 2017

      You’ve expressed so well the angst many of us have been feeling. When is the other shoe going to fall?….. Each day I look for a voice of sanity to come forth from someone in the GOP . Someone with a conscience…is there anyone amongst them left.

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    2. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 4, 2017

      Just remember, the Rs fillibustered 79 different Obama appointees, and the Ds didn’t change the rules.

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    Reply
  4. Phil Christensen April 4, 2017

    A bit surprised that the Democrats are being this tactically inept. Spending their capital on this nominee will serve no purpose. They usually play a longer game. I expected them to wait for Ginsburg to retire to come out with guns blazing.

    Reply
    1. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 4, 2017

      OK thanks for the input, you America-hating coward.

        1. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 4, 2017

          OK thanks for sharing more of your Stormfront meme stash. It’s not like you’re capable of posting anything with actual words, let alone cogent ones.

  5. itsfun April 4, 2017

    By sometime Friday Neil Gorsuch will be a supreme court justice. Anybody having problems with changing rules, should talk to Harry Reid. He is the one that started changing rules, not the Republicans.

    Reply
    1. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 4, 2017

      “They did it first, in my imagination! That makes corruption and treason OK!”

      You dare call yourself an American.

      1. InformedVoter April 15, 2017

        Hey HELLpy, the Pathetic poster of lies and earner of the title “usually inaccurate”: Still spewing inaccurate information I see. How low will your accuracy rating get?
        First, it was the Dems, twice, who said that in the final year of a presidency, any SCOTUS opening should wait until the next election was over.
        Second, it was the Dems who used the nuclear option (more than once) to seat liberal, unqualified judges.
        The Dems played this so stupidly. They should have confirmed Gorsuch and used their stalling tactics for the next. The next may well be in President Trump’s 3rd year and gamble he wouldn’t get reelected. Dumb Dems, but what else is new?

        1. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 15, 2017

          So still no quote, huh. Another gold star for me!

          1. InformedVoter April 16, 2017

            Hey HELLpy, the Pathetic poster of lies and earner of the title “usually inaccurate”: the latest accuracy ratings come out in two days. You are already accurate less than 1 out of 10 posts. I would be surprised if you don’t drop to below 5% – less than one out of 20 posts are accurate!
            Even that stupid Eleanore W. is accurate more than that!

          2. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 16, 2017

            So still no quote, huh. Another gold star for me!

          3. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 17, 2017

            Oh that’s great news, crazy person who argues with a bot that only ever replies with the one phrase. Can you link to your TOTALLY IMAGINARY CRAZY PERSON RATING SYSTEM THAT DOES NOT EXIST or nah?

          4. InformedVoter April 17, 2017

            Obviously you’ve been caught in yet another posting of inaccurate (I call it lying) information. Once more you claim that you don’t monitor my “replies” and that a Java bot does, but we all know you haven’t the talent, nor is it feasible.
            I told you before that your comments “another gold star” was causing your inaccurate count to climb.
            FYI, I receive emails regarding the accuracy of posters. I suspect that since you’re accuracy numbers are so low, that the don’t bother contacting you.
            Even your response “crazy person who argues with a bot that only ever replies with the one phrase” even adds to your inaccuracy totals.
            You’re probably still thinking that HilLIARy is going to win the election — FESS up!

          5. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 17, 2017

            So still no quote, huh. Another gold star for me!

          6. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 17, 2017

            OK, sorry you couldn’t seem to post a link to your made-up fantasy site where you’re not a miserable crazy failure. It’s because you made it up and are a crazy liar, crazy liar.

          7. InformedVoter April 18, 2017

            Hey HELLpy, the Pathetic poster of lies and earner of the title “usually inaccurate”: you can change your name all you wish, but your trail of inaccurate posts will still follow you. You continue to make inaccurate claims that your lame responses are generated by Java bots, and that you don’t read my posts, but in replying to them, you reinforce your inaccuracy rate because you obviously do read them.
            Keep up the “good work”. I can’t wait for them to send me the next round of accuracy rates.

          8. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 18, 2017

            So no link, huh. I just got voted Most Accurate And Best Poster and given six gold stars.

          9. InformedVoter April 19, 2017

            Hey HELLpy, the Pathetic poster of lies and earner of the title “usually inaccurate”: “six gold stars”, are you in the third grade?
            No, you didn’t get voted anything but dummy of the decade.
            Let’s look at the facts:
            You claimed Deb W-D did not resign because of the leaked email and I provided links to prove it.
            You claimed that the auto bailout made a profit and I provided links to prove it lost $9.2 billion.
            You claimed that Donna B did not provide debate information in advance of the debate and I provided links to prove it.
            The list goes on and on. In each of these instances, you replied with “still no quote”.
            You have continually ignored proven links and made yourself look even dumber than you were before.
            Why should I provide yet another link to only have you respond “still no quote”?
            You are what you earned HELLpy, the Pathetic poster of lies and earner of the title “usually inaccurate”.

          10. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 19, 2017

            So no link, huh. I just got voted Most Accurate And Best Poster and given six gold stars.

          11. InformedVoter April 19, 2017

            Hey HELLpy, the Pathetic poster of lies and earner of the title “usually inaccurate”: this message was automatically generated because you expressed interest in purchasing a Donald J. Trump presidential banner.

          12. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 19, 2017

            So no link, huh. I just got voted Most Accurate And Best Poster and given six gold stars.

  6. 1standlastword April 4, 2017

    How does democracy get off a dead end street blocked on one end by obstruction and revenge on the other??!!

    Gorsuch is Scalia risen from the dead so as the matter goes revenge is not worth upsetting a senate tradition where before now was the only place of reason and sanity in the government since after the turn of the century.

    Democrats are tempting the Republicans to do what they do so well…. undermine the integrity of our Republic!

    This comes to easy for modern day pernicious republicanism!!!

    Democrats can’t even claim a pyrrhic victory for what is about to be sacrificed….

    Reply
  7. ps0rjl April 4, 2017

    What the Democrats need to do is some horse trading. Give the Republicans Garland in a straight vote and in return get a promise from the GOP that the next nominee will be Garland. Gorsuch appears to be fairly moderate with kind of a right leaning. Only time will tell.

    Reply
    1. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 4, 2017

      Gorsuch is a hard-right ideologue who thinks workers are required to do whatever their employees demand, regardless of trivial things like how it would kill them or endanger their health.

    2. ♚ King Leo ♚ April 4, 2017

      Here’s an article from the family of a leukemia patient he spinelessly helped her employers fire:

      http://www.sfchronicle.com/opinion/openforum/article/Judge-Gorsuch-failed-our-family-11001615.php

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