There are some on the Left who want Senate Democrats to block Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination at all costs. Some Democrats are more measured, wanting a hearing and a vote for Gorsuch. Others are still infuriated by Senate Republicans’ refusal to even consider President Barack Obama’s initial nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia, even though they were abiding by precedent set forth by then-Sen. Joe Biden: no Supreme Court nominations should be taken under consideration during an election year.
They say give Garland a hearing, though his nomination has expired. Regardless of the partisan uproar over the eminently qualified Gorsuch, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Baltimore Sun, and The San Diego Union-Tribune all say that Gorsuch should have a fair shake. I’m betting other publications would make the same argument.
… we aren't the ones who get to nominate a justice to the Supreme Court, and neither are the Democrats in Congress. Their job is to determine whether he is qualified to sit on the court and whether he is philosophically and temperamentally so far outside the mainstream as to render his selection by President Donald Trump untenable.
Based on his resume — Columbia undergrad, Harvard Law School, Oxford as a Marshall Scholar, two Supreme Court clerkships and experience handling a variety of cases on a federal appellate court — qualifications shouldn't be an issue. On the temperament front, he has a strong reputation as a collegial and modest jurist who works well with those across the ideological spectrum. He certainly made a good impression in his remarks Tuesday night.
…what Democratic senators should do, above all, is to meet with Judge Gorsuch. They should question him. They should attend and participate fully in his confirmation hearings. And, unless something truly disqualifying emerges, they should allow his nomination to come to a vote.
The publication also noted that Democrats should be careful with the filibuster threats, as the GOP has the votes to nuke it for Supreme Court nominations. They said they would do well to keep their “power dry” for when the ideological makeup is at stake.
The San Diego Union-Tribune noted that he’s not a Republican hard-liner due to his views on criminal justice. That’s a bit of an inaccuracy. A growing chorus of GOP lawmakers is opening to criminal justice reform. Moreover, Justice Scalia, of which Gorsuch is pretty much a clone, often was a defendant's best friend regarding protection of their rights.
“I have defended criminal defendants’ rights—because they’re there in the original Constitution—to a greater degree than most judges have,” the late justice said. The publication added if no red flags are discovered: confirm Gorsuch:
Senate Democrats may go to extraordinary lengths to try to block Trump’s nominee. They are eager to use Gorsuch’s nomination as a vehicle both to demonstrate their understandable fury over Garland’s treatment and to show solidarity with the millions of Democrats outraged over Trump’s victory despite losing the popular vote and Trump’s actions in his first two weeks as president.
But two wrongs still don’t make a right. Gorsuch is an impressive jurist, and that judgment goes beyond his Harvard law background, his clerking for two U.S. Supreme Court justices and the acclaim he’s received as a judge and professor. He is no Republican hard-liner. Gorsuch has views about criminal justice that emphasize civil liberties, not government authority, far from the norm for conservatives. In 2013, he gave a powerful, laudable speech lamenting the ever-growing complexity of the criminal code, wondering “what happens to individual freedom and equality when the criminal law comes to cover so many facets of daily life that prosecutors can almost choose their targets with impunity?”
There will be pushback from pro-choice groups. Gorsuch has not written explicitly about Roe v. Wade, but much has been read into his condemnation of assisted suicide on the grounds that “the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” Yet analysts say his confirmation would still leave the anti-Roe faction on the court a vote or two from the majority. Chief Justice Roberts is a conservative, but his history suggests he’d be wary of tossing out such a high-profile precedent.
For these reasons, we believe that if Gorsuch does well in his nomination hearings and if no red flags emerge in the heavy scrutiny he is likely to face in coming weeks, he deserves confirmation.
His scholarly credentials are impeccable: Columbia, Harvard, Oxford and Supreme Court clerk for Justices Byron “Whizzer” White and Anthony Kennedy. His rulings on social issues are likely to be a point of contention in confirmation hearings. For example, he has sided with religious organizations that did not want to be forced by the Affordable Care Act to provide birth control coverage. His 2006 book deplored assisted suicide as “always wrong.” He has criticized liberals’ use of courts as a “primary means” of bringing social change.
Senate Democrats have a right, indeed an obligation, to aggressively scrutinize Trump’s selection. The next justice would have a profound effect on the direction of everything from gay rights and abortion to guns and free speech, environmental protection to corporate clout.
Let the extreme vetting begin. But, in the end, Senate Democrats should fulfill their role of “advise and consent” by giving Gorsuch what Garland never received from Republicans: a fair hearing and an up-or-down vote on the Senate floor.
The media chorus is growing for a fair hearing and a vote. Seven Senate Democrats have already said they wouldn’t support a filibuster as well.