Democrats May Be Botching This Supreme Court Confirmation Fight


WASHINGTON Democrat know they dont have the votes to stop Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch from clearing his Senate confirmation hearing, which begins Monday. But they dont appear to have a strategy, or even the energy, for a coordinated fight against President Donald Trumps conservative courtroom pick.

Chalk it up to Trumps chaotic administration, or to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumers low-key approach. Democrat just havent treated Gorsuchs nomination as the type of high-profile ideological combat that Supreme court choices traditionally bring about. Even in the working day leading up the hearing, its felt more like an afterthought on Capitol Hill.

I hope the questions are good, Sen. Dianne Feinstein( Calif .), the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, told The Huffington Post on Wednesday when asked about her reckons heading into the hearing. Asked if there are any particular issues she plans to press Gorsuch on, she responded, Not right now.

Progressive advocacy groups have been demanding a real fight against Gorsuch, who, as an appellate judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10 th Circuit, built a record of opposing reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, civil rights, workers rights, immigrants rights and environmental protections.

Led by NARAL Pro-Choice America, 11 organisations sent a letter to Senate Democratsthis month torching them for having failed to demonstrate a strong, consolidated resistance to this nominee, despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic liberties. We need you to do better.

They likewise delivered more than 1 million petitions to the Senate exhorting Democrat to resist Donald Trumps extreme anti-choice Supreme court nominee.

Jonathan Ernst/ Reuters
Sen. Dianne Feinstein( D-Calif .) greets Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch to her agency on Feb. 6, 2017.

Democrats on the committee surely plan to ask tough questions of Gorsuch. Theyre just all over the place.

We can use these hearings to set the spotlight on big special interests, said Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse( D-R.I .). The test for Gorsuch is: is he willing to dissociate himself from them? In my opinion, the burden is on him to persuade us of that fact, particularly given that big special interests are investing tens of millions in dark money to try to help him get on the court.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal( D-Conn .) said he has the intention to pack in as many questions as possible, on as many topics as possible, because Gorsuch hasnt dedicated him clear answers on things hes asked him about.

Workers protections. Consumer rights. Womens health care. Privacy rights. The independence of the judiciary, said Blumenthal, who made news last monthwhen disclosing that Gorsuch told him in private that he found Trumps strikes on magistrates who ruled against his travelling ban demoralizing. In the wake of those commentaries, and pushback by the White House, Schumer wrote in a New York Times op-ed that the episode only creates concerns about his independence.

I will be pressing him and aggressively questioning him on all of these issues because he has an obligation to come clean with the American people before he presumes a lifetime appointment on the nations highest court, Blumenthal said.

Theres so many issues, I dont know where to start, added Sen. Dick Durbin( D-Ill .). A contemporary issue is the relationship between the executive and the judiciary. I think thats going to be tested again and again by this president.

But some advocates arent sure Democrat have it in their own homes to set Gorsuch on the defensive. And Gorsuch has been preparing judiciously to gratified whatever curveballs the Senate Judiciary Committee may hurl his way.

I dont believe the Democrat are going to get him to say things that are wildly objectionable, said Drew Courtney, a spokesman for People for the American Way, an organization that has long been involved in Supreme Court nomination fights. Courtney said senators would be best served by focusing on his record.

In an attempt to crystallize their strategy, Democrat this past week unveiled something of an offensive on Capitol Hill, seeming alongside sympathetic plaintiffs who have been on the receiving aim of a Gorsuch belief. The objective, in Schumers terms, is to paint this judge as someone who sided with the powerful against the powerless.

Chip Somodevilla via Getty Images
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer( D-N.Y .) and Sen. Richard Blumenthal( D-Conn .) held a press conference on Capitol Hill with people on the receiving aim of some of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s opinions.

But not everyone is convinced that the little guy approach is the right tack to use against Gorsuch. Some said here today relatively easy to rebut that controversy: One of the magistrates more popular opinions on immigration, a topic thats central to Trumps agenda received favor with an undocumented immigrant from Mexico. The decision effectively prevented “the mens” deportation.

I dont believe[ Gorsuch] is going to do everything President Trump thinks he will do in his favor, said Timothy Cook, the Oklahoma lawyer who represented the immigrant in that case. He added that he thinks Gorsuch would be a good Supreme court justice.

Progressive senators, like Elizabeth Warren( D-Mass .) and Jeff Merkley( D-Ore .), have already said theyll oppose Gorsuchs confirmation in the full Senate. But many are waiting to see how he handles himself in the hearing before deciding how theyll election, though theyre skeptical.

Gorsuch clearly has aconservative record on the bench some commentators have find he is even more conservative than the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who hed be replacing on the Supreme court. He was among thoseon a listing of magistrates Trump announced during the campaign that was assembled with the help of The Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation, two prominent conservative groups.

He has a very high bar to clear, both in proving that he can be an independent check on the executive and that he will give less powerful plaintiffs a fair shake before the Supreme court, said a Senate Democratic leadership aide. Democrat are going to push him hard to answer direct questions on both of those topics.

If his reply are anything like theyve been in private meetings, he isnt going to win anyone over, added the aide.

We need you to do better.” The message progressive groups delivered to Senate Democrat regarding their fight against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch will need some Democratic supporting, which he did get into 2006 when he was unanimously confirmed to the 10 th Circuit. It takes 60 elections to advanced his nomination in the Senate, and there are only 52 Republican. If Republican cant hit 60, its possible that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell( R-Ky .) will eliminate that so-called filibuster rule wholly. If that happens, Gorsuch was able to require 51 elections to be confirmed. Democrat, for now, are relying on that rule for leverage.

I will use every tool available, including the filibuster, to resist him, Blumenthal said this week. We will use every tool at our disposal.

Out of tradition, one Democrat, Sen. Michael Bennet( Colo .), will introduce Gorsuch on Monday alongside fellow Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner( R ), according to Politico. At least one other senator up for re-election in 2018, Joe Manchin( D-W.Va .), has said hesopen to be voting in favour of Gorsuch.

Thats not acceptable to some of their progressive allies. In a call with reporters earlier this month, some groups warned that Senate Democrat will pay world prices if they help Gorsuch get confirmed.

We want the Democrat to act as the opposition party , not as the minority party, said Murshed Zaheed, political administrator of Credo Action. Those who are in favour of him will permanently damage his or her political career.

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