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Historic Debate Begins on Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee

by Countable | Updated on 7.9.18

Historic Debate Begins on Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee

The full Senate began debate Tuesday on President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. Republicans are rallying behind his confirmation, while most Democrats vow to oppose it.

GOP leaders say Judge Gorsuch is the right choice to assume the seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. The two were friends, and Trump’s nominee names Scalia as one of his ideological influences in law. Gorsuch is a staunch adherent to a conservative, ‘originalist’ legal philosophy which argues that constitutional questions must be resolved based on the intent of the nation’s framers.

Most Senate Democrats oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation, citing past federal cases where the judge sided with large business interests over unions and private citizens. They also argue his conservative legal philosophy is likely to lead him to rule against abortion rights, privacy arguments, and disability rights claims, among other matters. Democrats also harbor resentment for Senate Republicans who blocked then-President Obama’s nominee to the court more than a year ago.

The Senate fight is expected to come to a head on Thursday, when the GOP will need to garner 60 ‘yea’ votes to continue the confirmation process. They are unlikely to get that number. Instead, Republican leaders, lead by Mitch McConnell (R-KY), have vowed to change the rules of the Senate, so that Gorsuch’s confirmation would require a simple majority -- 51 ‘yea’ votes -- a number much more easily achieved.

There’s a reason that change of Senate rules is known as ‘The Nuclear Option’; it won’t just put Gorsuch’s vote within reach for the GOP, it will make it much easier for any future majority, regardless of party, to confirm its president’s nominees to the nation’s highest court. During the Obama administration, Senate Democrats brokered a deal that allowed most federal judge confirmations and some other appointees to pass with a simple majority as well.

But scholars of American government worry these changes could lead to an ever wider ideological divide, among the justices of the Supreme Court, and across American jurisprudence at all levels.

What should your Senators do? Tell them!


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-- Andrea Seabrook

(Photo Credit: Joe Ravi / Creative Commons)

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  • Renea
    04/04/2017
    ···

    I find it ironic that Gorsuch bases his legal philosophy on what he assumes the original framers of the constitution wanted, yet we are willing to throw out the rules put in place to keep our country from tyranny in order to get him nominated. Interesting, because if there is one thing we can all agree on it's that the original framers did not want tyranny. The Supreme Court was also initially intended to not be partisan so the justices could make decisions based on what's right, and not party loyalty. I implore anyone and everyone who has the power to do so to stop Gorsuch from being nominated and stop the GOP from using the "nuclear option" which would do nothing but bring our government ever closer to tyranny.

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  • Christopher
    04/05/2017
    ···

    I do not support the Gorsuch nomination, but my opinion doesn't matter because I am a progressive. When progressives vote a person of color into the Oval Office, every bill he supports is filibustered and his power is diminished. My diverse state has been gerrymandered so that conservatives permanently control the state senate and dominate our national representation in congress. When I cast my vote for president, arcane 18th century laws prevent my candidate from taking power, this despite her having won by three million votes. Now the conservatives in the senate will force a right-wing Supreme Court justice onto the bench with a simple majority when all his predecessors had to clear a higher threshold. These same senators accuse democrats who won't support Gorsuch of obstructionism when they themselves refused even to give the progressive president's centrist nominee a hearing. "It was an election year" they say, but I can count, and I know my president had nearly a year left in his term. Do black, progressive presidents only get three year terms? In this America, they do. In this America, a president with historically low approval ratings, a president under investigation for possible collusion with Russia to steal his victory, gets to appoint a judge who will likely shape our national character for thirty years or more while his legitimate predecessor was denied. Why? Because he's white, male and represents the very wealthy. I know that Mr. Gorsuch will be our next Justice. And I also know there's nothing just about it.

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  • Carey
    04/05/2017
    ···

    Changing the rules at this point to manipulate the vote on Gorsuch is unethical and despicable. You represent PEOPLE and not your party. We, the citizens, have to live with SCOTUS judges until the judge voluntarily retires or dies. It is too serious of a position for too long of a time period to manipulate the process. If he can't get 60 "yea" votes, he doesn't belong on the SCOTUS.

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  • Marty
    04/04/2017
    ···

    I'm opposed to Neil Gorsuch and ask you to vote no for confirmation. Republicans didn't give Merrick Garland a thumbs up thumbs down vote and in an unprecedented move, didn't allow President Obama to appoint a SCOTUS. Republicans left the seat open for 293 days and are on record for saying eight was sufficient. No Supreme Court appointment by President Trumo should be allowed until Russian investigation is complete. This could be his last year as president so the same measure you used to attempt to steal this appointment applies.

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  • Noble
    04/04/2017
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    I understand the desire to get Gorsuch nominated, however changing Senate rules and taking the "nuclear option" while it may help the GOP in the short term, fundamentally undermines American democracy and hurts whichever party is in the minority.

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  • Diane
    04/04/2017
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    Under no circumstances should a lifetime nomination to the Supreme Court be approved during an investigation of this administration, President Trump and his staff. It would set a dangerous precedent and put the future of our democracy in danger.

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  • Jamie
    04/04/2017
    ···

    I know that you don't really care what your constituents think but this is a stolen seat. If ever there was a true "lame duck" president it is 45. He is unfit and it is becoming clearer every day that he will not last. You should be holding a vote on Merrick Garland since you tried to steal his seat by completely unconstitutional measures. I know you don't care but I am ashamed of you.

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  • Liz
    04/04/2017
    ···

    There is no "debate" about Neil Gorsuch. His avoidance of answering questions was outrageous and his overall judicial stance concerns me that he was ever made a judge in the first place. He has no business even being considered for the Supreme Court. As for the "nuclear" option, a Supreme Court nomination is far too important for a simple majority. Vote no to changing the rules, vote no to Gorsuch, and then tell the president to try and find a more moderate nominee on whom all sides can agree.

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  • dorissa
    04/05/2017
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    Change the nominee, not the rules. Mitch McConnell is continuing to abuse his power by threatening to change the Senate rules. He is dangerous for the Senate; he is dangerous for America.

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  • Katharine
    04/04/2017
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    I am totally opposed to the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Senate. This is too much, too fast - no one should be confirmed for this Supremely important position in this rushed and brutish manner. Nor should anyone be confirmed until a proper investigation of Trump's ties to Russia has been completed.

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  • Anna
    04/04/2017
    ···

    If the rules "have to be changed" to move a candidate in, he/she is NOT a good choice. And this candidate is NOT a good choice. No one with a record of bigotry, prejudice, and disregard for the environment (and, following, public health and safety), should be put in any governmental decision making position, let alone one whose responsibility it is to uphold the Constitution. Garland NOT Gorsuch!

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  • WesternMehndi
    04/05/2017
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    To my Texas congressmen: Please uphold the 60 vote majority needed for this important confirmation. Using the nuclear option just to get this vote done will permanently damage the way Congress is supposed to work. You have already done considerable damage when you refused to even consider Merrick Garland. Gorsuch may look like he's from Central Casting, but he is too extreme to be on the Supreme Court. He rules for corporations, not people. His rulings are harmful to women. He doesn't seem to understand how his rulings affect real people. Do not vote to put Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. He doesn't have the votes. Don't change the rules, change the nominee.

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  • MLOwen
    04/04/2017
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    No trump appointment should be approved until a thorough, independent investigation into the administration's contact/collusion with a hostile foreign power is completed.

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  • D
    04/04/2017
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    I think it is terrible that it is even possible to change the rules to fit a party's political pick for the Supreme Court - Garland should have been allowed a hearing and would have appealed to both sides of the aisle while Gorsuch hasn't been forthcoming in his answers and clearly skews to the extreme right -

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  • Drewby
    04/04/2017
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    Judge Gorsuch plainly wasn't forthcoming in the nomination hearings; he was evasive and at times condescending. When, by coincidence , the Supreme court ruled unanimously against one of his decisions that made it clear to me he isn't qualified. Then there's the matter of the Republican members failing to do their duty and hold hearings for Judge Merrick. As Rep Schiff aptly noted, when speaker McConnell declined to hold hearings for Judge Merrick, THAT was the nuclear option, all else is the fallout. If the so called lame duck excuse applies, how does it stand up when the President is under multiple active investigation(s)? Postpone the confirmation until the incredible mess around DJT is cleaned up. You stalled a year before, what's the hurry now? Vote NO on Gorsuch.

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  • Joshgroft
    04/04/2017
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    Changing the rules of the US Senate to get a Supreme Court nominee is temporal thinking. Senators who support this action are conceding that they don't want to work. Changing the rules to win is part of the same entitled thinking that has plagued politics now for a while. As a constituent I promise to hold accountable those who take the nuclear option. Be set apart, be principled, be a Senator who sees beyond 2017.

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  • Eric
    04/04/2017
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    All hearings for Judge Gorsuch should be held until after the investigations regarding Russian involvement in the election are settled. It would also best benefit the American people for Congress to revisit the nomination of Judge Garland by former President Obama. In the event Congressional leaders move forward with a vote on Gorsuch, there should be no use of the so-called "nuclear option." The rules in place for a 60 vote majority are in place for a reason. It is past time to put aside the partisan politics and to serve the people who elected you.

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  • Mark
    04/04/2017
    ···

    I don't know how any Senator, regardless of party, would be willing to consider any nominee put forth by a President whose administration is under a criminal investigation. Republicans will rue the day they got in bed with Trump. America and the world are watching and we all will have long memories. No amount by of political spin will save you from the wrath of voters next election cycle.

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  • Jane
    04/05/2017
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    If there was no reason to accept Obama's nominee in his final year in office, then there is no reason to accept Trump's while he is under a cloud of suspicion that could lead to his impeachment--making this the last year of his presidency.

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  • Patricia
    04/05/2017
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    Please represent your constituents. Iowa voted twice for Obama. Merrick Garland is his choice for Supreme Court. Garland, therefore, is the only legitimate candidate for the seat. Saying otherwise is, at best, hypocrisy. At worst, lying. Neither is an Iowa value.

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