President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is set for a confirmation hearing before the Senate Judiciary on March 20, and already nine Senate Democrats have said he deserves a vote.
Gorsuch is slated to replace the seat of late Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon and well-respected figure among the legal community.
Taking a different approach from their colleagues, nine Democratic Senators believe Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote and won’t support a filibuster to block his nomination.
Many Democrats are still resentful over the treatment of Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, for whom Republicans denied a confirmation hearing.
Republicans justified their actions based on the “Biden-rule,” in which then Senator Joe Biden argued in 1992 that Supreme Court vacancies should not be filled during a lame-duck, presidential election year.
“There’s no doubt what they did [on Garland] was wrong and unconstitutional. In the end, I don’t think we should play their game. Have a hearing and vote,” said Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Senator Chris Coons, D-Del., concurred, saying, “I’m not going to do to President Trump’s nominee what the Republicans in the Senate did to President Obama’s. I will push for a hearing and I will push for a vote.”
Democrats are expected to grill Gorsuch on a variety of legal issues, and the conservative judge will need at least eight Democratic votes in order to clear the Senate. The hearing is expected to last three to four days.
Republicans argue that Democrats are attempting to apply unrealistic standards for Gorsuch, standards that were not put in place for former President Barack Obama’s two successful nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan.
“Judge Gorsuch has met every demand placed on him by the Minority. He’s a mainstream judge. He’s displayed independence,” Senate Judiciary Committee Chuck Grassley said in a statement. “He’s met with dozens of senators who have nothing but positive things to say. He is well-qualified and respected.”
“It’s time for him to have the opportunity to speak for himself before the Judiciary Committee,” Grassley added.
Gorsuch has already met with about 50 senators so far, and has a full schedule of individual meetings on Thursday.
“I will meet with Judge Gorsuch and support a hearing and a vote for him,” said Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.
If the nine Democrats who already support Gorsuch do not change their mind, then any attempt at a filibuster effort will fail.
The confirmation is expected to go smoothly, though Trump has reportedly urged senators to “go nuclear” if Democrats attempt to delay it.
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