For 10 months, Senate Republicans stonewalled and blocked Judge Garland’s nomination, all to spite President Obama.
Senators on the Judiciary Committee, which is holding the hearing, will give opening statements on Monday and then take turns asking questions of the nominee on Tuesday.
When Federal Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch takes the spotlight in Washington, DC this week, a lot of eyes from Colorado will be watching.
According to Senate rules, 60 votes are needed to invoke cloture or end debate on the nominee.
Opponents of Gorsuch’s confirmation are running a parallel, if less sweeping, effort to sway those same senators away from confirmation.
And the hostility which Trump and his administration have shown towards immigrants and rational immigration policy demands a commitment to judicial independence that Gorsuch has shown no signs of bringing to the job. He’s met with upward of 70 senators and rehearsed disarming answers in private “murder boards”. “In his court decisions, Judge Gorsuch endorsed the lowest of expectations for students with disabilities, which allowed public schools to provide our highest-needs students with the bare minimum educational benefit”. Certainly, its tradition of civil discourse during the most trying political times in our country’s history has proven this to be an appropriate moniker.
There are now 11 Republicans and nine Democrats on the committee, so there’s no doubt Gorsuch will be approved. Democratic Senate leader Chuck Schumer has waffled and now gone quiet about the issue. He received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, hardly a bastion of right-wing extremism.
Republicans, meanwhile, appear optimistic about Gorsuch’s chances of being sworn in sometime in early April. So instead of approving or rejecting the nominee, the committee will usually report the nomination favorably, unfavorably or without recommendation.
Jonathan Adler, a law professor who contributes to The Volokh Conspiracy blog, noted last week that while “progressive activists may be itching for a fight … many progressive attorneys and legal experts recognize the merits of the Gorsuch nomination”. Robert Bork, who in 1987 famously went into his confirmation hearing the odds-on favorite for confirmation, refused to submit himself to these practice sessions, and paid dearly with a performance that made him sometimes sound arrogant and less than fully candid. The Democratic Senate campaign arm is not advertising on Gorsuch; the Republican Senate campaign arm is. That is exactly what Judge Gorsuch has done in several thousand cases he has heard on the 10th Circuit.
But traditional Democratic big spenders, such as the super PAC Priorities USA and the advocacy network led by Democratic operative David Brock, have not spent any money on paid media to defeat Gorsuch, and as of Thursday they had no plans to.
Republicans have a 52-48 majority, so at least eight Democrats and independents will have to vote with Republicans. This might be a good time for a strict constitutionalist – Gorsuch is supposedly one – to deliver a respectful observation about how, if we ignore our federal courts and the rule of law, we introduce anarchy to our constitutional republic. McConnell was extremely critical of that move but may have to do it if that’s his last option to confirm Gorsuch. Under present rules, Gorsuch would need 60 votes for confirmation.
The issue of whether the IDEA requires “some” progress or “significant” progress is one that courts have differed on and the question is now before the Supreme Court in a separate case with a ruling expected later this year.
What happens next week will provide much information about whether Gorsuch will actually become a justice.