Democrats oppose Gorsuch, say he rules against workers
WASHINGTON (AP) — Five more Democrats said Friday that they will vote against Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and will support a filibuster against him.
California Sen. Kamala Harris, Washington Sen. Patty Murray and Rhode Island Sens. Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse all said they believe the Denver-based appeals court judge has ruled too often against workers and in favor of corporations. New Mexico Sen. Tom Udall said Gorsuch had failed to convince him he'd be an independent voice against President Donald Trump, who nominated Gorsuch in January.
"The stakes don't get any higher," Harris said in a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle. "Some argue that if a nominee has a stellar legal resume, he or she is qualified to sit on the bench and our job is done. I disagree. As U.S. senators, we have an obligation to also examine a nominee's legal approach and ask whether he or she considers the impact of those decisions on our society and the daily lives of our people."
Murray said one reason she's opposing Gorsuch is because of "chaos" in Trump's administration, pointing to his refugee and travel ban blocked by federal courts and an FBI investigation into the Trump campaign's connections with Russia.
She said those issues have led her to conclude that "I cannot trust that President Trump is acting in the best interest of our country or our democracy and that I cannot support moving forward with his choice for the court."
Udall echoed those concerns and said Gorsuch failed to win him over when the two met.
Gorsuch "failed to answer questions that are critical for me — his position on the rights of working mothers, whether women can choose their own health care decisions, LGBTQ rights and dark money in our elections, to name a few," Udall said.
Despite the Democratic opposition, Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed by the Senate's Republican majority. The Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of confirmation hearings this week, including two days questioning Gorsuch. He refused to give his personal views on most any issue, including abortion, campaign finance and others that Democrats highlighted.
In response to the Democratic criticism, Gorsuch repeatedly said he has often ruled for the "little guy" over corporations. He said several cases in which he has ruled for corporations over workers "don't represent the body of my work."
Gorsuch also stressed he'd be an independent voice, saying that "no man is above the law."
Whitehouse, a member of the Judiciary panel, extensively questioned Gorsuch on the Court's 2010 Citizens United decision, which allowed wealthy donors to give as much as they'd like as long as candidates aren't controlling how the money gets spent.
"He seemed not to understand the pernicious effect of unlimited, secret political spending — the 'dark money' that has warped our politics following the five to four decision in Citizens United," Whitehouse said in a release. "Dark money is every American's problem and one that the Court caused, and can remedy. "
The Democrats join several other colleagues in their party who have said they will vote against Gorsuch, including another five Democrats who announced their opposition Thursday. Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer was one of those five, and he also said Democrats would try and block the nominee, meaning Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will have to hold a procedural vote requiring 60 votes to move forward.
Republicans have a 52-48 majority, so at least eight Democrats and independents will have to vote with Republicans. If they don't get those votes, Republicans could still change Senate rules to ensure Gorsuch's confirmation.
The Judiciary panel has scheduled a vote on Gorsuch for Monday, but chairman Chuck Grassley of Iowa has said he expects that vote to be held over a week until April 3. McConnell has said he hopes to confirm Gorsuch on the Senate floor by the end of that week, before the Senate leaves for a two-week recess and in time for the Court's April arguments.
By Mary Clare Jalonick. Copyright Associated Press.
The Gayly - 3/24/2017 @ 5:20 p.m. CST