Democrats line up against Trump's Supreme Court pick

Democrats line up against Trump's Supreme Court pick
© Getty Images

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 Hussein ObamaTrump on his 'chosen one' remark: 'It was sarcasm' Kentucky basketball coach praises Obama after golf round: 'He is a really serious golfer' Biden evokes 1968, asks voters to imagine if Obama had been assassinated MORE’s pick.

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenSteyer calls on DNC to expand polling criteria for debates Gabbard hits DNC over poll criteria for debates The Hill's Campaign Report: Democratic field begins to shrink ahead of critical stretch 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 Campbell BrownBank watchdogs approve rule to loosen ban on risky Wall Street trades Dayton mayor assigned extra security following verbal spat with Trump The Hill's Campaign Report: Battle for Senate begins to take shape MORE, a progressive from Ohio, described Gorsuch’s positions on corporate personhood, LGBT protections and women’s healthcare as too extreme.

ADVERTISEMENT

“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 WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenWyden blasts FEC Republicans for blocking probe into NRA over possible Russia donations Wyden calls for end to political ad targeting on Facebook, Google Ex-CIA chief worries campaigns falling short on cybersecurity MORE (D-Ore.) also signaled his opposition to the pick.

Sen. Jeff MerkleyJeffrey (Jeff) Alan MerkleyDemocratic senator and top Trump immigration official argue over asylum claims on Twitter Senate Democrats push Trump to permanently shutter migrant detention facility Senate Dem seeks answers from DHS on reports of pregnant asylum seekers sent back to Mexico 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 HeitkampMary (Heidi) Kathryn HeitkampPence to push new NAFTA deal in visit to Iowa Al Franken says he 'absolutely' regrets resigning Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE of North Dakota, say they oppose a filibuster.

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerJewish Democratic congresswoman and veteran blasts Trump's 'disloyalty' comments Schumer says Trump encouraging anti-Semites Saagar Enjeti: Biden's latest blunder; Krystal Ball: Did Schumer blow our chance to beat McConnell? 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 Robert WarnerLawmakers sound alarm on China's disinformation campaign in Hong Kong Facebook users in lawsuit say company failed to warn them of known risks before 2018 breach New intel chief inherits host of challenges 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.”