Democrats Have Little to Lose in Blocking Gorsuch, Schumer Says

  • Senate Democrats gearing up for filibuster in vote next week
  • Grassley says GOP will get Gorsuch on court one way or another

Democrats may have little to lose in their drive to block U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch because Republicans can go “nuclear” and ban filibusters of high-court picks in the future if they don’t do it now, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said.

Schumer said Wednesday it’s a fallacy that Democrats need to drop their effort to block a vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation to ensure they can filibuster possible future nominees during President Donald Trump’s term.

Chuck Schumer

Photographer: Win McNamee/Getty Images

“If they’re so quick to change the rules this time, they’ll be quick to change them next time,” Schumer, of New York, said at a news conference.

Schumer’s remarks reflect a growing resignation in both parties that they’re headed toward a high-stakes conflict when the Senate takes up the nomination of Gorsuch next week. The Denver-based federal appellate judge would replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly guaranteed Gorsuch will be confirmed. The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on the nomination Monday, and a full Senate vote is scheduled for April 7. Republicans control the Senate 52-48 and, under current rules, they need support from eight Democrats to proceed to a final vote.

If Democrats refuse to cooperate, Republicans could unilaterally change the rules -- a procedure known as the "nuclear option" -- to allow the nomination to advance with a simple majority vote. McConnell has attacked Democrats for ending filibusters for executive-branch and lower-court nominees in 2013.

Either Way

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Charles Grassley said that, one way or another, Gorsuch will get on the court when the Senate votes.

Judge Neil Gorsuch

Photographer: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

“We haven’t had a vote count” on Republican support for a rule change, Grassley said. “But there’s something to be said for senators who have said that come next Friday or Saturday, this guy’s going to be confirmed.”

He also suggested that Democrats need to be concerned about a "slippery slope" that might eventually lead to a loss of the minority party’s ability to use filibusters even to block legislation.

“I would think they would think that would be very bad and wouldn’t want to do that,” Grassley said.

Schumer said Democrats are determined to try to keep Gorsuch off the court because he was recommended by conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society, has a pro-business track record in his rulings, and is backed by what the senator called a “dark money” campaign of secret donors.

“If the nuclear option is invoked, it is because Republicans in the Senate chose to do so,” he said.

So far, at least 29 Senate Democrats have said they’ll oppose Gorsuch and will vote to block a final vote. Republicans are united behind Gorsuch.

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