President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat of the late Antonin Scalia has yet another hurdle to clear before he is confirmed, as the Senate Democrats on Monday delayed an initial committee vote for one week.
The Judiciary Committee met at noon on Monday, reaching their decision based on objections from Democrats who expressed discontent with a number of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s answers during his confirmation hearing that began March 20.
The decision follows statements from Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer who said a delay is necessary due to the FBI’s ongoing investigation into connections between the Trump campaign and Russia.
“You can bet, if the shoe were on the other foot and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI, the Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances,” Schumer alleged.
Schumer is joined by over a dozen Democrats and Independents who have voiced opposition to Gorsuch’s past rulings.
The Associated Press reported that Gorsuch’s opponents believe his rulings are pitted against workers and in favor of businesses, as well as some who claim he would not make rulings independent from Trump.
Despite this opposition, Gorsuch has made his commitment to impartiality clear.
“There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” Gorsuch said when asked about whether receiving his nomination from a Republican president would influence his decisions. “We just have judges in this country.”
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh and Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, have vivaciously defended the nominee. Cruz went as far as to say Democrats have “slandered” Gorsuch.
Some Democrats have spoken out in favor of Gorsuch. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said that a different set of political beliefs won’t keep Gorsuch from fulfilling the obligations of his job.
“I have no doubt that unlike the president, Judge Gorsuch has profound respect for an independent judiciary and the vital role it plays as a check on the executive and legislative branches,” Bennet said. “I may not always agree with his rulings, but I believe Judge Gorsuch is unquestionably committed to the rule of law.”
Despite the setback, confirmation is still the most likely outcome for Gorsuch, as he has solid Republican backing. He will need 60 votes from the Senate, where Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., seems willing to use the “nuclear option,” if necessary, so that a simple majority will be enough to confirm.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said that delays and opposition aside, he expects the committee to vote on April 3 with the full Senate vote to follow on April 10.
“Before the hearing started we all knew how qualified the judge is. His resume speaks for itself,” Grassley said. “But last week we got to see up-close how thoughtful, articulate, and humble he is. He is clearly deeply committed to being a fair and impartial judge. And he isn’t willing to compromise that independence to win votes in the Senate.”
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