Democrats Face Dilemma as Gorsuch Hearings Begin
Supreme Court showdown starts Monday
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2017 5:13 AM CDT
Updated Mar 20, 2017 6:45 AM CDT
President Trump shakes hands with 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch after announcing his nomination.   (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster, file)
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(Newser) – Confirmation hearings for Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, begin Monday and Senate Democrats have a tough choice to make: Block the conservative judge's nomination as payback for Republicans' refusal to consider the nomination of Merrick Garland, or vote to confirm him and face the wrath of liberal voters. If they block the nomination when it is sent for a full Senate vote, Senate Republicans might choose the "nuclear option" and vote to change the rules, allowing the judge to be confirmed without any Democratic votes. A roundup of coverage:

  • Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, tells the Washington Post that Gorsuch is a "bit of a puzzle" and during the four days of hearings, she wants to learn more about his stance on: "Voting rights. Right to choose. Guns. Corporate dollars in elections. Worker safety. Ability of federal agencies to regulate. All of the environmental issues—water, air."
  • The Hill lists five things to watch for during the confirmation process, including how Gorsuch will fare under pressure from Democrats to speak out against Trump, and whether red-state Democrats will give the GOP the votes they need.

  • The AP looks at the complicated process for confirming a new Supreme Court justice. Monday will involve statements from all 20 members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, followed by one from Gorsuch himself. Two days of questioning will follow, with witnesses testifying Thursday. Under current rules, the nomination will need 60 votes to proceed in the Senate. The Republicans currently have 52.
  • The New York Times looks at the Democrats' choice, which it describes as "Get out of the way or get run over." Some Democrats feel that since Gorsuch is replacing fellow conservative Antonin Scalia, they should allow the nomination to proceed now and dig in their heels next time.
  • Feinstein's office has issued a statement calling Gorsuch a "pro-life extremist" because of his record on issues like Planned Parenthood as a federal appeals judge, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. He has also "consistently sided with employers and corporate interests," the senator's office said.
  • Gorsuch would be the only Protestant on the court, but his religious background is complicated, CNN reports. He was raised a Catholic, but now worships at the St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, Colo., which conservative groups have denounced as excessively liberal.
  • Liberal activists have vowed that Democrats who fail to hold Gorsuch's "feet to the fire" this week will face consequences, Politico reports. Major Democratic groups, however, are focusing on saving ObamaCare and have declined to answer Republicans' pro-Gorsuch ads with ads of their own.

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