Democrats find var­i­ous ‘rea­sons’ to shun Gor­such

Repub­li­cans see only list of poor ex­cuses

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY ALEX SWOYER

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

last month.

“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.

AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

CRIT­I­CIZED: Supreme Court Jus­tice nom­i­nee Neil Gor­such re­ceived strong re­views for his per­for­mance at his Se­nate con­fir­ma­tion hear­ings last month.

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