Democrats line up against Trump's Supreme Court pick

Democrats line up against Trump's Supreme Court pick
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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 ObamaTrump notes 'election meddling by Russia' in tweet criticizing Obama Trump slams Obama for doing 'nothing' about Russia before the election OPINION: Dear media, Americans don't care about Obama's legacy MORE’s pick.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWhat does the working class want? Better schedules. Live coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief 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 BrownDems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate Banking panel huddles with regulators on bank relief Overnight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief MORE, a progressive from Ohio, described Gorsuch’s positions on corporate personhood, LGBT protections and women’s healthcare as too extreme.

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“I cannot support any nominee who does not recognize that corporations are not people,” Brown said in a statement. “The Supreme Court has enormous influence over the lives of everyday Ohioans, and any nominee must be willing to defend their rights to make their own healthcare decisions, collectively bargain for safe workplaces and fair pay, and to be protected from discrimination and Wall Street greed.”

 Sen. Ron WydenRon WydenCommerce secretary spoiled Treasury secretary’s secret wedding: report Dems push for more action on power grid cybersecurity Senate bill would repeal most ObamaCare taxes, delay Cadillac tax MORE (D-Ore.) also signaled his opposition to the pick.

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeff MerkleyOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger Dems step up attacks on GOP ObamaCare bill 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 HeitkampSenate Dem undecided on 2018 reelection run Trump ‘regulatory czar’: Two-for-one rule can work Congress should just say no to more green energy handouts MORE of North Dakota, say they oppose a filibuster.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerFCC advances proposal to unmask blocked caller ID in threat cases Trump: Pelosi's leadership good for the GOP Live coverage: Senate GOP unveils its ObamaCare repeal bill 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 WarnerPolicymakers forget duty to protect taxpayers from financial failures Donna Brazile: Congress has duty to halt Trump on Russia sanctions Lawmakers told of growing cyber threat to election systems 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.”