BURN IT DOWN!
Dems go full blast to undermine Trump
Democrats turned obstructionist yesterday, boycotting hearings and pledging to sink President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch (above).
President Trump nominated conservative Judge Neil Gorsuch of Denver for the Supreme Court on Tuesday — a move Democrats vowed to fight even before it was announced.
“I took the task of this nomination very seriously,” Trump said as he presented the nominee and his wife, Louise, in an announcement at the White House.
“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills.”
The president added, “The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute.”
Gorsuch then took the podium and talked emotionally about how he “missed” the justice he would be replacing, the late Antonin Scalia.
“I pledge that if I am confirmed, I will be a faithful servant to the Constitution and laws of this country,” he said.
Gorsuch, 49, a fourth-generation Coloradan who sits on the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver, will restore the ideological balance that existed before Scalia’s sudden death in February 2016.
The Harvard grad is a conservative Republican and a champion of religious liberty known for his crisp and pointed writing style.
He has slammed liberals for an “overweening addiction to the courtroom,” and last year hailed Scalia as a “lion of the law.”
A study led by Mercer University law professor Jeremy Kidd concluded that Gorsuch was the second-most similar to Scalia of the 21 prospective justices on a list Trump released during the presidential campaign.
Gorsuch has a decade-long record on the federal bench, and won unanimous Senate approval for his appeals-court post in 2006.
But he will face tough grilling from Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and, surviving that, when the full Senate votes on his nomination.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) vowed to stage a filibuster on the Senate floor even before the pick was announced. Shortly after the announcement, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) tweeted that “no senator who believes individual rights are reserved to the people, not the government, can support Gorsuch’s nomination.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer also expressed reservations. “Gorsuch put corps over workers, been hostile toward women’s rights & been an ideolog. Skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice,” Schumer tweeted.
The nomination came after an extraordinarily contentious day in the nation’s capital, with Democrats still furious over the president’s temporary travel ban on immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim countries.
Also Tuesday, among other fast-moving developments:
Senate Democrats pulled a procedural maneuver at a Judiciary Committee meeting on Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), delaying his expected confirmation as attorney general by at least one day.
Democrats also boycotted Finance Committee hearings to consider two key Cabinet nominees — Steven Mnuchin at Treasury and Thomas Price at Health and Human Services — claiming each required further vetting.
MoveOn.org and Resist Trump New York organized protests — dubbed “What the f--k, Chuck?” — targeting Schumer at his home in Brooklyn. The crowd, which demanded that New York’s senior senator be harder on Trump, grew to 3,000 at Grand Army Plaza before protesters marched to the senator’s Prospect Park home.
Meanwhile, Schumer was in Washignton leading the effort to delay a vote on Sessions using a
procedural trick known as the “two-hour rule,” which bars Senate committee meetings from continuing past 2 p.m.
Democrats on the committee gave lengthy speeches, with Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii) dragging out the clock for 23 minutes, in part by reciting a speech by Ronald Reagan.
Schumer announced his intentions on Twitter — mid-hearing — at 1:21 p.m.: “The American people need answers on exec orders from Sen. Sessions. Jud Cmte shouldn’t proceed until we get them so I’ll invoke the 2hr rule.”
Judiciary Committee chair Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) — who gave Democrats the leeway to vent — said the vote would be delayed until 10:30 a.m. Wednesday.
As Democrats fought to delay hearings on Trump’s Cabinet picks, the White House and GOP senators fought back furiously.
Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer angrily called the delay tactics “ridiculous.”
“The mere idea they’re not even showing up to hearings is truly outrageous,” he said.
Finance Committee Chair Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) went further.
“They ought to stop posturing and acting like idiots,” he griped. “I’m very disappointed in this kind of crap. This is the most pathetic thing I’ve seen in my whole life in the United States Senate.”
The Democratic walkout stalled deliberations because Finance Committee rules require that at least one Democrat be present for votes.
Sen. Patrick Toomey (R-Pa.) said the move was unprecedented. “We did not inflict this kind of obstructionism on President Obama,” he said.
But in 2013, when Democrats controlled the Senate, Republicans boycotted a committee vote on Gina McCarthy to head the Environmental Protection Agency, temporarily stalling it.
And Democrats are still smarting from Senate Republicans’ refusal to even hold a hearing on Obama’s March 2016 nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Scalia seat. A confirmation would have given the court a majority of Democratic appointees for the first time since 1969.
Trump, the former star of TV’s “The Apprentice,” had summoned Gorsuch and the other top finalist, Thomas Hardiman, 49, of Pittsburgh, to appear in DC, building anticipation for the dramatic, reality-TV-like reveal.
Republicans hoped an announcement this week on the Supreme Court choice would provide time for confirmation before the Senate recess scheduled to start on April 8, and potentially let the new justice hear cases during the high court's current nine-month term.
Dems will be hard-pressed to stop the nomination, given the 52-48 membership advantage Republicans hold in the Senate.
Under current rules, Republicans need 60 votes to bring the nomination to the Senate floor if the filibuster proceeds.
But Republicans could eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments with a simple majority vote — invoking the so-called “nuclear option.”
Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has vowed that lawmakers will confirm Trump’s nominee.
The political leanings of the high court nominee are of vital importance to Democrats, as the new court could decide cases affecting controversial issues such as immigration, voting rights, abortion, affirmative action and transgender rights.
Sen. Jeff Sessions Attorney General P U D EL H
P U D EL H Stephen Mnuchin Treasury