Progressives set to declare victory on Gorsuch, one way or the other

Progressives set to declare victory on Gorsuch, one way or the other
© Greg Nash

Progressives are declaring an early victory over Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination.

Even if President Trump’s pick is confirmed after a historic Senate vote on Thursday to end the minority party's ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominations, liberal groups think they’ll win.

They predict that Republicans will face a backlash over changing the Senate’s rules and will have to own any controversial decisions handed down by the Supreme Court heading into the 2018 midterms and 2020 presidential election.

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“It's been our belief since election night that Democrats' job is to do everything they can to block Trump's interest and agenda,” said Heidi Hess, the senior campaign manager for Credo Action. “We're absolutely in support of the Democratic Party acting like the opposition party.”

Kaylie Hanson Long, a spokeswoman for NARAL Pro-Choice America, added separately that if Republicans decide to employ the "nuclear option" on Gorsuch, they will be changing the rules for “a president under active FBI investigation for potential ties to Russia.”

“Let’s be clear: the decision to blow up the Senate is squarely in the hands of Republicans, and Republicans alone. And it will be only Republican votes to change the rules,” she wrote in a memo to reporters.

Outside groups are stepping up their attacks on a handful of vulnerable Republicans.

The People’s Defense — a coalition of outside groups led by NARAL— released digital ad campaign worth at least $100,000 targeting Republicans in Arizona, Alaska, Maine, Nevada and South Carolina, warning them that “history is watching.”

GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOvernight Energy: Reporters barred from Day 2 of EPA summit | Dems blame Trump for gas price increases | Massachusetts to get new offshore wind farm Jeff Flake: Trump has 'debased' the presidency Senate Democrats look for traction on gas prices MORE (Ariz.) and Dean HellerDean Arthur HellerKennedy retirement rumors shift into overdrive McConnell: Midterms will be 'very challenging' for GOP Singer Jason Mraz: Too much political 'combat' in Washington MORE (Nev.) are considered the two most vulnerable GOP senators up for reelection in 2018.

The Constitutional Responsibility Project also released last-minute ads targeting Republicans in Alaska, Arizona, Nevada, Nebraska, South Carolina and Tennessee.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee launched newspaper ads targeting Flake, Heller and Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzSenators introduce bill to overhaul sexual harassment policy Greatest risk to the Republican majority? Rising interest rates GOP Senate primary heats up in Montana MORE (R-Texas), who is up for reelection in 2018 and already has a Democratic opponent, as well as red-state Democratic Sens. Joe DonnellyJoseph (Joe) Simon DonnellyOvernight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — House passes 'right to try' drug bill | Trump moves to restrict abortion referrals House votes to ease regulation of banks, sending bill to Trump House approves 'right to try,' sends bill to Trump's desk MORE (Ind.), Joe ManchinJoseph (Joe) ManchinOvernight Finance: House sends Dodd-Frank rollbacks to Trump | What's in the bill | Trump says there is 'no deal' to help ZTE | Panel approves bill to toughen foreign investment reviews House votes to ease regulation of banks, sending bill to Trump Senators demand answers on Trump’s ZTE deal MORE (W.Va.) and Heidi HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Trump urges anti-abortion advocates to rally in November House votes to ease regulation of banks, sending bill to Trump MORE (N.D.).

A handful of red-state and centrist Democratic senators have cast doubt over the strategy of blocking Gorsuch, who will fill a seat held by former conservative Justice Antonin Scalia. They’ve suggested it might be better to have the standoff over the next court vacancy.

Sen. Michael BennetMichael Farrand BennetGOP, Dem lawmakers come together for McCain documentary Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by PCMA — Trump official won't OK lifetime limits on Medicaid Hillicon Valley: White House eliminates top cyber post | Trump order looks to bolster agency CIOs | Facebook sees spike in violent content | Senators push NIH on tech addiction | House to get election security briefing MORE (D-Colo.), who is opposing the Democratic filibuster against Gorsuch, said earlier this week that he had spent weeks trying to avoid the “nuclear option.”

"If we go down this road we will undermine the minority's ability to check this administration and all those who follow," he said from the Senate floor.

He warned that if senators don't back down Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsWyden presses FBI for information on inflated encryption figures ‘Whatever’ isn’t an option for immigrant children Comey blasts Trump's FBI claims: 'How will Republicans explain this to their grandchildren?' MORE or EPA Administer Scott Pruitt, who Democrats have serious concerns about, could be nominated to the Supreme Court and Democrats would have no tools to block them.

Sen. Claire McCaskillClaire Conner McCaskillThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Republicans see some daylight in midterm polling Trump urges anti-abortion advocates to rally in November Calif. gov candidates battle for second place MORE (D-Mo.), who is opposing Gorsuch’s nomination, raised similar concerns during a private fundraiser, audio of which was leaked by the Missouri Republican Party.