The effort to filibuster Gorsuch just got a big boost

Ian Millhiser Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst, Think Progress

The highest ranking Democrat in the United States Senate is on Team Spine.

“I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) announced on the Senate floor Thursday morning. More significantly, Schumer also indicated that he will join a filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination.

“His nomination will have a cloture vote,” said Schumer. Gorsuch “will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

As a federal judge, Gorsuch — who President Trump nominated to a seat that Senate Republicans held open for a year in the hopes that Trump would fill it — voted to limit women’s access to birth control if their employers have religious objections to contraception. He attempted to cut off funding for Planned Parenthood in Utah. He has an aggressive plan to consolidate power within the federal judiciary, at the expense of federal agencies such as the EPA. And Gorsuch is also almost certain to be the fifth vote to uphold voter suppression laws that target groups that tend to prefer Democrats to Republicans.

Nevertheless, Politico reports that a small group of Democrats want to strike a deal to confirm Gorsuch “in exchange for a commitment from Republicans not to kill the filibuster for a subsequent vacancy during President Donald Trump’s term.” Such a deal would be unenforceable, and Republicans who agree to it would come under extraordinary pressure from well-moneyed interest groups to break the deal if another vacancy should arise on the Court.

Such a deal, however, would require eight Democrats, and it is far from clear that eight members of Schumer’s party will cave to Donald Trump and agree to turn control of the Supreme Court over to the GOP. Significantly, Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA), a moderate Democrat from a state Trump narrowly won last November, also announced on Thursday that he will vote “no” if Republicans attempt to break a filibuster of the Gorsuch nomination.

If Democrats successfully filibuster Gorsuch, Republicans could potentially change the Senate rules to allow Gorsuch’s nomination to move forward. This effort would fail, however, if only three Republicans oppose it.

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Reposted from Think Progress.

Ian Millhiser is a Senior Constitutional Policy Analyst at the Center for American Progress Action Fund and the Editor of ThinkProgress Justice. He received a B.A. in Philosophy from Kenyon College and a J.D., magna cum laude, from Duke University. Ian clerked for Judge Eric L. Clay of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, and has worked as an attorney with the National Senior Citizens Law Center’s Federal Rights Project, as Assistant Director for Communications with the American Constitution Society, and as a Teach For America teacher in the Mississippi Delta. His writings have appeared in a diversity of legal and mainstream publications, including the New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, U.S. News and World Report, Slate, the Guardian, the American Prospect, the Yale Law and Policy Review and the Duke Law Journal; and he has been a guest on CNN, MSNBC, Al Jazeera English, Fox News and many radio shows.

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