FEATURED:

Schumer a no on Gorsuch, will urge Dems to oppose

Senate Democratic Leader Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerThe Hill's Morning Report — Presented by the Coalition for Affordable Prescription Drugs — Health care a top policy message in fall campaigns McConnell says deficits 'not a Republican problem' Medicare for All is disastrous for American seniors and taxpayers MORE (N.Y.) says he will oppose Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and urge fellow Democrats to do the same.

Schumer announced Thursday that Democrats will filibuster Gorsuch and force Republicans to muster 60 votes to advance him to a final up-or-down vote.

“He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same,” he said on the Senate floor.

ADVERTISEMENT

Republicans have threatened to change the Senate’s filibuster rule to exempt Supreme Court nominees from procedural gridlock — a controversial tactic often referred to as the "nuclear option" that Democrats deployed in 2013 to protect Cabinet and lower-court judges from filibusters.

Schumer, however, argued the problem is not with the chamber’s rules, but with a nominee who has regularly sided with powerful interests over average Americans in high-profile cases.

“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee,” he said.

Schumer argued that the nominee was unable to convince him that he would serve as an independent check on President Trump, “who has shown almost no restraint from executive overreach.”

He said Gorsuch “has long been someone who has advocated extreme deference to assertions of broad presidential power.”

Gorsuch declined to say during a marathon question-and-answer session before the Judiciary Committee this week whether the Constitution barred Trump from accepting payment from foreign powers through his real-estate empire.

He also dodged a question about whether Trump would be forced to comply with a subpoena from Congress related to its investigation of Russian influence or if he could circumvent legal prohibitions on enhanced interrogation or warrantless surveillance.

Schumer accused Gorsuch of being evasive in his testimony and noted that the senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, Dianne FeinsteinDianne Emiel FeinsteinDurbin to Trump: ‘We’re the mob? Give me a break’ Sen. Walter Huddleston was a reminder that immigration used to be a bipartisan issue GOP plays hardball in race to confirm Trump's court picks MORE (D-Calif.), told Gorsuch "you have been very much able to avoid any specificity, like no one I have ever seen before."

While other recent nominees have declined to comment on issues that might come before them on the court, Gorsuch declined to say whether he agreed with landmark cases banning segregation in schools and establishing rights to abortion and contraception.

Schumer said Gorsuch's career in the George W. Bush’s Justice Department, private practice and on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals suggests “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology.”

He said the strong support of Gorsuch from the Federalist Society, which is “dedicated to changing the judiciary and placing activist, hard-right judges on the bench,” signals how he would rule on the high court.

He pointed to Gorsuch’s opinion upholding the dismissal of an assistant professor at Kansas State University who asked for additional sick leave in the midst of a flu epidemic as she was recovering from a cancer-related bone-marrow transplant.

He also cited a dissenting opinion that held a trucking company had the right to fire a driver who disobeyed an order in seeking shelter during sub-zero weather conditions.

Finally, Schumer mentioned Gorsuch’s ruling against a parent who sought to use the Individuals with Disabilities Act to place a severely autistic child in a residential school program.

“We do not want judges with ice water in their veins. What we want and need are judges who understand the litigants before them and bring a modicum, at least a modicum, of human judgment into the courtroom,” Schumer said. 

This report was updated at 11:26 a.m.