On Monday, Democrats in the Senate accrued enough support to filibuster Trump Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, which may lead to Senate Republicans changing the rules on confirmations.
The Washington Post reports that four more Democratic senators have said they will support a filibuster of the nomination, which gives them the needed 41 votes to block Gorsuch.
Members of the Senate Judiciary Committee gathered to vote on the nomination on Monday, and while the Republican majority panel will forward Gorsuch to a Senate hearing, the upcoming week is likely to see a showdown of the two parties over the conservative judge’s elevation to the court.
Democratic senators Dianne Feinstein of California, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Christopher Coons of Delaware have all vowed to vote no, giving Senate Democrats the leverage to block the nomination. Reuters reports that Sen. Coons committed to the 41st necessary “no” vote.
Senate Republicans are threatening to change the rules in order to push Gorsuch into the Supreme Court. To do so would mean that Gorsuch would only require a simple majority vote of 51, rather than the “supermajority” of 60 that is currently required by procedure. Coons told fellow members of the committee that such a move would be “tragic,” adding:
“The principles that have defined the Senate are crumbling, and we are poised to hasten that this week.”
Gorsuch’s addition to the court would mean a nine-seat conservative majority in the august body, a promise made by former reality TV show host Donald Trump during the presidential campaign. Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch supplants the previous nomination of Judge Merrick Garland by former President Barack Obama to replace deceased judge Antonin Scalia on the court.
Senate Republicans refused to give Garland a hearing, with known congressional obstructionist Sen. Mitch McConnell playing his final card in blocking any and all Obama administration policies and appointments.
Sen. Feinstein, the Judiciary Committee’s senior Democrat announced she would support a filibuster, citing the obstruction of Garland’s appointment:
“There was simply no reason that the nomination of Judge Garland could not proceed, other than to deny the then-president of the United States, President Barack Obama, the ability to fill the seat.”
Feinstein also state that she was disturbed by “dark money” in the millions from anonymous donors that paid for advocacy for Gorsuch’s nomination.
Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham, who is also a member of the Judiciary Committee says he regrets the “damage done” to the Senate from partisanship, but otherwise will follow his party lead:
“If we have to, we will change the rules, and it looks like we’re going to have to. I hate that. I really, really do.”
Gorsuch has been criticized by Democrats for being “excruciatingly evasive” during his confirmation hearings, with Democratic Sen. Leahy saying:
“It’s a disservice to the American people and a blight on the confirmation process.”
Senate Democrats changed the majority vote rules in 2013 in order to limit the number of times Republicans could filibuster against Obama court nominees. However, although they can change the vote for nominees to a simple majority, legislation will still require 60 votes to pass.
Featured image via By The White House (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W-7U5E9SsR8) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons