By Lawrence Hurley and Andrew Chung
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A third of Democratic senators have so far announced that they will vote against the confirmation of US President Donald Trump‘s Supreme Court nominee, adding to an opposition chorus from the left. But it leaves questions about whether there will be a concerted effort to block a Senate vote.
To date, 16 of the 48 Democratic senators have publicly endorsed their leader, Chuck Schumer, who said Thursday that he is opposed to confirming appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch. Others have yet to announce their intentions.
Gorsuch is heading toward a Senate Judiciary Committee vote, likely April 3, on his superior court nomination after a marathon four-day confirmation hearing this week.
After that, it’s still unclear how much of a fight Democrats will put up when the nomination goes to a final vote in the 100-member Senate, where there are 52 Republicans.
Democratic opposition to Gorsuch could spark a showdown in the Senate and delay the judge’s confirmation, but ultimately, Republicans are likely to win that fight and avoid another setback in Congress for Trump, who took a hit Friday when the Legislators withdrew a major healthcare bill.
Senate rules allow Democrats to insist on 60 votes to overcome a procedural measure called obstructionism to allow a final vote for or against to confirm Gorsuch, 49, for the lifetime seat on the highest court in the United States. nation. (GRAPH – Gorsuch Confirmation: How it works http://tmsnrt.rs/2nANgEj)
But the Senate Republican leadership could adopt a rule change that allows a vote that would only require a simple majority of the House. If ultimately confirmed, Gorsuch would reestablish a conservative majority on the nine-seat high court.
For Democrats, putting up a fight would at least frustrate Trump and appease liberal activists hurting by the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to vote for President Barack Obama‘s candidate for the same available court seat last year.
If ultimately confirmed, Gorsuch would reestablish a conservative majority on the nine-seat high court.
Conservative activists targeted 10 Democrats running for reelection in 2018 in the states Trump won in the presidential election as possible “yes” votes to Gorsuch among Democrats.
Of that number, Sherrod Brown from Ohio, Bob Casey from Pennsylvania and Tammy Baldwin from Wisconsin have already announced their opposition to the nomination. The other seven, including West Virginia‘s Joe Manchin, have yet to announce their plans.
Another Democratic senator under pressure from both sides on Gorsuch is Michael Bennet, who represents the home state of Gorsuch, Colorado. Bennet has yet to announce his position.
Republicans are also hopeful that some Democratic members of the judicial committee, including Chris Coons of Delaware and Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota, are wary of blocking a vote on the nominee. Its spokespersons did not respond to requests for comment.
Don Stewart, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, said it would be an “unprecedented, even nuclear, step” to demand a 60-vote threshold before the Senate can vote for the candidate.
“Never, in the history of the Republic, has there been a successful partisan filibuster of a candidate for the Supreme Court,” he added.
The latest attempt to obstruct a nominee was a Democratic attempt to block a vote on Judge Samuel Alito, who was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2005. Democrats failed to garner enough support and the Senate voted 72-25 to proceed to a survey. -or vote against. Alito was finally confirmed 58-42.
Sarah Binder, a political scientist at George Washington University, said Democrats can muster enough support to block a vote because very few of them are moderates from Republican-leaning states, meaning they may feel they have little to lose. If Trump’s popularity falls, that could cheer them up even more, he added.