Claire McCaskill, a Democrat representing the red state of Missouri, announced today that she intends to join the more liberal members of the Senate in filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to fill the Supreme Court seat that has been vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia's death. Senate Republicans are hoping to vote on April 7 to confirm the conservative appeals court judge nominated by the Republican president in January.
If Senate Democrats filibuster Gorsuch's nomination, McConnell would need to invoke cloture.
Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has been the loudest voice opposing Gorsuch, threatening that there will be awful consequences if the GOP changes Senate rules, as the Democrats did under Harry Reid several years ago for other nominees, and allow for a simple majority to end debate and move to an up-or-down vote. Manchin said in a statement, "I hold no illusions that I will agree with every decision Judge Gorsuch may issue in the future, but I have not found any reasons why this jurist should not be a Supreme Court Justice". Judge Gorsuch did all this within six days of receiving the questions in order to give Senate Democrats ample time to review the answers prior to the Committee vote and floor consideration scheduled for next week. He's participated in past judicial confirmation compromises created to retain Senate traditions including the filibuster.
Senators Maria Cantwell of Washington state, Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada and Tammy Duckworth of IL said on Thursday they would vote against Gorsuch.
"By the way, Gorsuch was one of the better ones", McCaskill quipped."So they pick another one off the list and then they bring it over to the Senate and we say no, no, no, this one's worse".
Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, in a commentary published by CNN, wrote "arguments peddled by the left against [Gorsuch] are total straw men and non sequiturs". Feinstein told reporters this week that she would wait until next week to make her decision known on the filibuster and how she would vote on Gorsuch's confirmation vote. She and nine other Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018 represent states that Trump won in November, some of them decisively.
Oregon's Merkley speaks for hours in filibuster of Trump's Supreme Court nominee
The change is known on Capitol Hill as the "nuclear option" because of the potential repercussions for the Senate and the court. McConnell told reporters he has the votes to change the rules.
Some Democrats have said Republicans "stole" a Supreme Court seat past year when the Senate refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Scalia, appellate judge Merrick Garland.
To reach 60 votes, McCaskill was key. Michael Bennet of Colorado, Jon Tester of Montana and Joe Donnelly of IN, and are also hoping for support from Sen.
"The judge has consistently sided with corporations over employees, as in the case of a freezing truck driver who, contrary to common sense, Judge Gorsuch would have allowed to be fired for abandoning his disabled rig during extreme weather conditions", Nelson said. Of course, if Democrats do this, Republicans could use the "nuclear option" to end the use of filibusters for Supreme Court nominations altogether. The Judicial Crisis Network is spending more than $10 million on pro-Gorsuch ads and grassroots efforts with state and national conservative organizations. Sen.
The process requires the Senate majority leader to take the chamber into an executive session, the setting in which nominees are confirmed, according to Worth Hester, the assistant director of the Georgetown Government Affairs Institute.
She said she "cannot and will not support a nominee that allows dark and dirty anonymous money to continue to flood unchecked into our elections".