Democrats in the Senate quickly rallied in opposition to President Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Anton Scalia on the Supreme Court.
The early opposition lays the groundwork for a bitter battle between Republicans, who are enthused by Trump’s pick, and Democrats, who are still angered by the GOP’s blockade of former President Barack ObamaBarack ObamaCourt suspends case over Obama climate rule Ex-Obama aide: Trump admin playing 'absurd blame game' over Flynn Why is the State Department refusing to disclose Soros' involvement in Macedonia? MORE’s pick.
Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenSanders: Obama's 0K Wall Street speech 'unfortunate' Trump retweets Fox News video on Warren criticizing Obama Senate confirms Labor Secretary Acosta MORE (D-Mass.) railed against Gorsuch's record and said she would oppose his nomination.
"President Trump had the chance to select a consensus nominee to the Supreme Court. To the surprise of absolutely nobody, he failed that test," she said in a statement. "Instead, he carried out his public promise to select a nominee from a list drawn up by far right activist groups that were financed by big business interests."
Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod BrownTrump talks big on trade, but workers need action Dems crowd primaries to challenge GOP reps Battle begins over Wall Street rules MORE, a progressive from Ohio, described Gorsuch’s positions on corporate personhood, LGBT protections and women’s healthcare as too extreme.
Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenWhat killing net neutrality means for the internet Overnight Tech: Net neutrality fight descends into trench warfare | Zuckerberg visits Ford factory | Verizon shines light on cyber espionage Franken, top Dems blast FCC over net neutrality proposal MORE (D-Ore.) also signaled his opposition to the pick.
No senator who believes individual rights are reserved to the people, not the government, can support Gorsuch’s nomination.— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) February 1, 2017
Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Energy: Trump set to sign offshore drilling order Sanders: Trump couldn't be 'more wrong' on climate Overnight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ MORE (D-Ore.), who a day earlier predicted that Democrats would launch a filibuster against whomever Trump picked for the court, fumed that Obama’s pick to replace Scalia, Merrick Garland, was never given a hearing or a vote by Senate Republicans.
Republicans argued that it would have been unprecedented for an outgoing president to fill a Supreme Court vacancy at the height of a presidential election. Scalia died in February of last year, and Obama nominated Garland the following month.
Merkley encouraged Democrats to retaliate by resisting Trump’s pick.
“The most fundamental thing that must be understood about tonight’s announcement is that this is a stolen seat,” Merkley said.
“This is the first time in American history that one party has blockaded a nominee for almost a year in order to deliver a seat to a President of their own party. If this tactic is rewarded rather than resisted, it will set a dangerous new precedent in American governance.”
Any senator can require a 60-vote threshold for Gorsuch, but a filibuster for a Supreme Court nominee is exceedingly rare and has happened only four times in history.
Democrats failed in their last attempt to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee after former President George W. Bush nominated Justice Samuel Alito.
Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate. The GOP would need eight Democrats to vote with them to break the 60-vote threshold if there is a filibuster.
Some Democrats, like Sen. Heidi HeitkampHeidi HeitkampDems struggle with abortion litmus test Lawmakers reintroduce online sales tax bills Overnight Regulation: Senators call for 'cost-effective' regs | FCC chief unveils plans to roll back net neutrality MORE of North Dakota, say they oppose a filibuster.
Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerSchumer: Senate Dems will back stopgap funding bill Reagan's 'voodoo economics' are precisely what America needs When political opportunity knocked, Jason Chaffetz never failed to cash in MORE (N.Y.) said the burden is on 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."
"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," Schumer said.
Some Democrats expressed openness to reviewing Gorsuch’s record.
Sen. Mark WarnerMark WarnerWant to grow the economy? Make student loan repayment assistance tax-free. Overnight Cybersecurity: DNC hackers also targeted French presidential candidate | Ex-acting AG Yates to testify at Senate Russia hearing Schumer: Senate Russia probe moving too slowly MORE (D-Va.) lauded Gorsuch for having "an impressive résumé and academic background" but called for a thorough vetting "to ensure his views and judicial philosophy are not out of the mainstream."
"I look forward to carefully reviewing Judge Gorsuch’s qualifications before deciding whether I believe he is fit to serve on our nation’s highest court," Warner said in a statement.
Manchin, a centrist who is up for a tough reelection race in a state that Trump won overwhelmingly, called on his colleagues to put politics aside in their review.
“The Senate should hold committee hearings; Senators should meet with him, we should debate his qualifications on the Senate floor and cast whatever vote we believe he deserves,” Manchin said. “I look forward to meeting with Judge Gorsuch, examining his record, and making a determination of whether to provide my consent. Just as I have all along, I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed.”