Nuclear Option Looks Likely in Gorsuch Confirmation Fight

Dems are closing in on 41 votes
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 3, 2017 5:18 AM CDT
Updated Apr 3, 2017 5:36 AM CDT
Dems Closing in On Gorsuch Filibuster
Supreme Court Justice nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch explains rodeo "mutton busting" during his confirmation hearing.   (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch is going to be confirmed one way or another, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed on Sunday—and the Democrats appear ready to have it done the hard way. Senate Democrats are closing in on the 41 votes needed to block the confirmation, making it almost a certainty that McConnell will use the "nuclear option" and change Senate rules to have Gorsuch confirmed with a simple majority instead of 60 votes, Politico reports. The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote 11-9 along party lines Monday to send the nomination to the full Senate. A roundup of coverage:

  • Some 36 Democrats have announced their opposition to Gorsuch, along with independent Bernie Sanders, while just three Democrats so far say they will support him, the AP reports. That leaves seven Democrats and Maine independent Angus King undecided. If four of them decide to oppose Gorsuch, he will be the first Supreme Court nominee successfully filibustered since 1968.

  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tells NBC News that it's highly unlikely Gorsuch will get 60 votes, and he wants the GOP to change the nominee instead of changing the rules. "Our Republican friends are acting like, you know, they're a cat on the top of a tree and they have to jump off with all the damage that entails," he says. "Come back off the tree, sit down, and work with us and we will produce a mainstream nominee."
  • The Chicago Tribune sets out the timeline: Three days of formal debate will start Tuesday, followed by an expected confirmation on Friday. Republicans want to have Gorsuch on the court by the end of this month.
  • Democratic senators from red states are the most divided on the nomination, the Wall Street Journal reports. Missouri's Sen. Claire McCaskill came out against Gorsuch Friday, but she said it was a tough decision, especially since it is likely to lead to "a Senate rule change that will usher in more extreme judges in the future."
  • Sen. Joe Manchin, a Democrat from West Virginia, cited the potential rule change as his reason for supporting the nomination, the Hill reports. "People who have been here for a long time know that we’re going down the wrong path here," he said. "The most unique political body in the world, the United States Senate, will be no more than a six-year term in the House."
  • The editorial board of USA Today says that despite some questionable rulings, Gorsuch is no "fire-breathing extremist"—and he has shown the independence that the country is likely to require of him. "Overall, Gorsuch is about the best choice the country can expect from this president; in fact, the nomination was one of the least objectionable things Trump has done since taking office," they write.
(More Neil Gorsuch stories.)

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