“This is a stolen seat”
But his selection has been dealt a potentially fatal blow before it even becomes official. That’s because Democrats have already revealed their plan to filibuster the nominee—setting up a procedural block that has only been used one other time in history.
“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley said during an interview with Politico, announcing he will lead the filibuster. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
If the Democrats can rally 41 of their 46 senators (two independent senators also caucus with them), that would be enough to put the brakes on a Trump nominee. Gorsuch has been described as a conservative and “originalist” in the mold of Scalia.
As you might expect, Democrat and tireless Trump troll Senator Elizabeth Warren voiced her opposition to Gorsuch soon after President Trump clumsily announced the selection via Facebook video.
Based on the long and well-established record of Judge Neil Gorsuch, I will oppose his nomination. https://t.co/iYbOWwwGoS— Elizabeth Warren (@Elizabeth Warren)1485915631.0
The move comes in response to Senate Republicans refusing to even consider President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland last year. Republicans had even previously touted Garland, a moderate by any measure, as just the kind of pick they could get behind. However, once Obama made his nomination official, a number of Republicans made it clear they would not allow Obama a final Supreme Court justice before leaving office. The seat is critical for progressives and moderates, because the late Justice Scalia was arguably the court’s most conservative justice. Replacing him with even a moderate like Garland would have potentially swung the court to the left.
(U.S. Supreme Court)
Now that Trump plans to install another conservative pick, it could set up the court for a series of potentially conservative decisions on everything from abortion to marriage equality over the next several years.
One variable could be Sen. Chuck Schumer, the Democrat’s leader in the Senate. He has only said he will oppose any Trump nominee that isn’t “mainstream,” leaving open the slim possibility that he could still direct his caucus to support Gorsuch, who was appointed a seat at the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by George W. Bush in 2006. A few Democrats from conservative leaning states may potentially support this selection. The last time the Senate attempted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee was when President Bush nominated Samuel Alito to the court. That filibuster eventually failed.
It’s likely Gorsuch will face intense scrutiny, particularly in response to the president’s recent executive orders affecting immigration, refugees, national security and government regulations.