As the reasons for blocking Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch continue to mount, there is growing concern that Democrats are simply going to let President Donald Trump's nominee "off the hook," as Sen. Dianne Feinstein did during questioning Tuesday.
In one exchange during the second day of Gorsuch's Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Feinstein, the top Democrat on the committee, asked the appellate judge if he agreed with the dissent or the majority opinion in the District of Columbia v. Heller decision.
After it was clear Gorsuch would not give a clear answer on the case, which upheld an individual's right to possess firearms, Feinstein quickly relented: "Alright, I'll let you off the hook." Watch below:
The brief exchange crystallized fear that Democrats on the panel were going to let the nominee "sail" by, as he did during the first day of testimony despite the growing call for lawmakers to do more to block his confirmation.
Gorsuch's record has shown to be both pro-corporate and anti-woman (a stance further underscored by some of his answers on Tuesday). Not only that, but Monday's hearing coincided with FBI director James Comey's testimony before the House Intelligence Committee, during which he revealed that members of the Trump administration are currently under investigation for possible collusion with the Russian government over the 2016 president election.
That admission in itself, many say, is reason enough to halt the confirmation of Trump's nominee—particularly in light of the fact that Republican lawmakers refused to consider Judge Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama's nominee to fill the seat vacated by Justice Antonin Scalia.
Speaking on the Senate floor on Tuesday, Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared it "the height of irony that Republicans held this Supreme Court seat open for nearly a calendar year while President Obama was in office, but are now rushing to fill the seat for a president whose campaign is under investigation by the FBI."
"You can bet that if the shoe was on the other foot—and a Democratic President was under investigation by the FBI—that Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances," he added.
Meanwhile, progressive advocates are demanding that Democrats do more to stop Gorsuch's confirmation.
Pointing to Comey's "bombshell remarks" on Monday, Ilyse Hogue, president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, issued a statement calling for the Judiciary Committee to "immediately pause any consideration of Judge Gorsuch's nomination until the truth can come out."
And economist Robert Reich said that Democrats should focus on the "cloud of illegitimacy hanging over the Trump presidency" to rally party and popular resistance to Gorsuch, writing on Twitter:
If Democrats were smart, they wouldn’t focus on Gorsuch’s credentials or views. Instead, they’d focus on Trump, and remind America that: pic.twitter.com/mkMHoPCxzT
— Robert Reich (@RBReich) March 20, 2017
While many Democrats and left-leaning organizations argue that the ongoing healthcare battle has sapped attention from the Gorsuch fight, organizers say that lawmakers who concede to the Trump administration will do so at their own peril.
"Senate Democrats have a responsibility to watch what both of Trump's hands are doing," Ben Wikler, with MoveOn.org, said in an interview with The Atlantic. "Even if there's protests about the ACA [Affordable Care Act] next week that are louder than the protests about Gorsuch, they should remember that their votes on Gorsuch will be remembered by grassroots progressives for the rest of their political careers."