Democrats find various ‘reasons’ to shun Gorsuch
Republicans see only list of poor excuses
One Democratic senator says he won’t vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch, or any other U.S. Supreme Court nominee, while President Trump is under an FBI investigation.
Other Democrats say they are still upset over how Senate Republicans treated President Obama’s nominee last year and will punish Judge Gorsuch for it.
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, ticks off a long list of his objections. The latest is a complaint that Mr. Trump didn’t do enough to “consult” with Democrats before making his pick.
For Republicans, it looks like Democrats are tossing out excuses and hoping some of them will stick to Judge Gorsuch, who earned strong reviews for his performance at his confirmation hearings
“Democrats have been forced to talk about pretty much anything: President Trump, think tanks, you name it. Anything, but the nominee himself,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Thursday on the Senate floor, mocking the growing list of complaints.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Monday on whether to recommend Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the full Senate. He is expected to clear on a party-line vote.
Mr. McConnell then will speed the nomination to the chamber floor and aim for a final vote Friday before senators leave for their spring recess.
Democrats bristled at Mr. McConnell’s charge that they are searching for reasons to oppose Judge Gorsuch.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the country will soon get a chance to judge Democrats’ reasons.
“I think we’ll have an opportunity to make those arguments on the floor,” Mrs. Feinstein told The Washington Times.
But two months after Mr. Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch, Democrats still are searching for a consensus line of attack against him.
Sen. Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrat, announced that he would oppose Judge Gorsuch because of the “darkening cloud over the Trump administration” with alleged ties to Russia.
“Given the multiple congressional and criminal investigations that are tainting this administration, it would not be responsible to move forward with President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee until these Russia-related allegations are resolved,” said Mr. Heinrich.
At Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, Democrats repeatedly prodded him on his ties to Republican figures, saying they worried he wouldn’t be able to be a fair and impartial jurist — even though he has won praise from ethics specialists for his careful standards as an appellate judge in deciding which cases he could hear.
Other complaints about the judge include his refusal to answer questions about how he would rule on major topics likely to come before the court and his rulings as an appeals court judge in cases where he sided with an illegal immigrant who was trying to gain leniency, against a truck driver who abandoned his rig, and against a disabled student who had sued to demand a better public education.
Mr. Schumer cited the lack of bipartisan consultation on the Supreme Court vacancy as a reason to vote against Mr. Trump’s nominee.
“Contrast that with Bill Clinton who sought and took the advice of the Republican Judiciary Chairman Orrin Hatch in nominating Justice [Ruth Bader] Ginsburg and [Justice Stephen G.] Breyer,” said Mr. Schumer, New York Democrat. “There was bipartisan consultation. That’s why the process worked.”
White House press secretary Sean Spicer dismissed Mr. Schumer’s complaint.
“Prior to the president making his final decision, the White House spoke with 29 senators, more than half of whom were on the Democratic side of the aisle,” said Mr. Spicer.
Democrats also are still fuming over Republicans’ treatment of Judge Merrick Garland, who was Mr. Obama’s pick to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. Republicans announced even before the Garland nomination was made that they would refuse to confirm anyone. They said the seat should be an issue left to the next president who would be elected in November.
Democrats said that amounted to stealing the seat from Mr. Obama and that it sets an even higher bar for Judge Gorsuch — a bar most of them say he hasn’t met.
All 52 Republicans in the chamber are likely to support Judge Gorsuch, but they will still need eight Democrats to join them to overcome an expected filibuster led by Mr. Schumer.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said the debate over Judge Gorsuch’s nomination has never fundamentally been about his qualifications because Democrats are under pressure from their base to resist Mr. Trump.
“They still haven’t come to terms with the 2016 election,” said Ms. Severino.
But Dan Goldberg, legal director at the progressive Alliance for Justice, said Democrats have examined the judge’s record and “rightly concluded this is an extreme nominee.”
Mr. Goldberg pointed to a unanimous Supreme Court decision last week that rejected a legal test Judge Gorsuch had used in a similar case, where he ruled against an autistic child.
“Democrats have ample evidence of how outside the mainstream Neil Gorsuch is,” he said.
CRITICIZED: Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch received strong reviews for his performance at his Senate confirmation hearings last month.