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Supreme Court Nominations
Posted Mar 23, 2017 03:01 pm CDT
If Judge Neil Gorsuch is to be confirmed as the next associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, he will likely have to survive a Senate filibuster.
On Thursday, Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer announced that he would oppose Gorsuch’s confirmation and that President Donald Trump’s nominee would face a cloture vote. According to the Washington Post, Schumer, speaking from the Senate well, said that Gorsuch would have to meet the same 60-vote threshold that both of President Barack Obama’s appointees, as well as both of President George W. Bush’s appointees, satisfied.
“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes—a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and George Bush’s last two nominees—the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee,” Schumer said. According to the Post, now-Justice Samuel Alito is the only Supreme Court nominee to face a cloture vote in past 47 years. John Roberts,Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were all confirmed with more than 60 votes.
Schumer also took issue with Gorsuch’s jurisprudence, calling the judge “someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology” who was “groomed by the Federalist Society and has shown not one inch of difference between his views and theirs.” Schumer also doubted that Gorsuch would be willing to act as a check on the president who nominated him.
Schumer acknowledged that a filibuster of Gorsuch could result in a wholesale change of Senate rules, including the elimination of filibusters on Supreme Court nominees. In 2013, in the face of Republican obstruction, then-Senate majority leader Harry Reid eliminated filibusters on lower court nominees while keeping it intact for Supreme Court nominees. Republicans, for their part, have hinted that they will consider eliminating the filibuster on nominees, saying that Gorsuch will definitely be confirmed.
“If Judge Gorsuch can’t achieve 60 votes in the Senate, could any judge appointed by a Republican president be approved with 60 or more votes in the Senate?” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) asked earlier in the week.
Complete and continuing coverage of the Gorsuch confirmation hearings are available in a live blog from the ABA Journal:
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