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A sign at a protest on the Supreme Court steps against right-wing Judge Neil Gorsuch.

A sign at a protest on the Supreme Court steps against right-wing Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Photo: Getty)

Growing a Spine? Schumer Sets Stage for Gorsuch Filibuster

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced opposition to right-wing Supreme Court nominee, setting stage for filibuster showdown

Nika Knight Beauchamp

After weeks of outcry and public calls for Senate Democrats to "grow a spine" and filibuster President Donald Trump's right-wing Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Democrats finally appear to be listening.

On Thursday, after three days of Senate Judiciary Committee testimony, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced that he could not support Gorsuch's nomination and indicated that he would join a filibuster against the nominee.

"He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation," Schumer said. "My vote will be no."

"His career and judicial record suggest not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology," Schumer said:

Democrats have complained throughout Gorsuch's testimony that the conservative judge has been eliding questions and refusing to explain his judicial philosophy in concrete terms.

When pressed to explain his stance on Roe v. Wade on Wednesday, for example, Gorsuch avoided the line of questioning and simply stated that "a good judge[...] doesn't try to reinvent the wheel."

"For the life of me, I really don't know" what Gorsuch's stance is on the pivotal issue, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said.

Fearing Gorsuch's right-wing credentials and angered by the GOP's stonewalling of former President Barack Obama's Supreme Court pick, progressives have publicly called for a filibuster of his Supreme Court nomination since Trump announced it in January. Over forty labor, environmental, women's, and LGBTQ groups wrote a letter to Senate Democrats urging such a resistance earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported:

"Democrats have failed to demonstrate a strong, unified resistance to this nominee despite the fact that he is an ultra-conservative jurist who will undermine our basic freedoms and threaten the independence of the federal judiciary," they said in a letter sent to the 48-member minority. "We need you to do better."

"Caving to Trump's interests without a fight would take a wind out of the sails of the nascent resistance movement rocking our country," argued the Guardian's Lucia Graves last month.

It appears that Democrats are finally heeding that call. Schumer's Thursday announcement followed a similar statement from Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), who is "a potential swing vote who faces a tough reelection next year," Politico observes

"I have serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch's rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy," Casey said, and added that the judge "employs the narrowest possible reading of federal law and exercises extreme skepticism, even hostility, toward executive branch agencies."

Progressive groups also continue to urge Democrats to consider the potential dire ramifications of Gorsuch's lifelong appointment.

"The impact of the Supreme Court on abortion access goes far beyond Roe v. Wade. If Judge Gorsuch is confirmed, there could be grave consequences for women's lives and health for decades to come," said Vicki Saporta, president and CEO of the National Abortion Federation, in a statement Thursday.

As Democrats finally turn against Gorsuch, they're setting the stage for a high-stakes political showdown. As NPR explains: "Republicans control 52 Senate seats, and would need eight Democrats to join them to move Gorsuch's nomination forward under current Senate rules. Short of that, Republican Senate leaders may trigger the so-called 'nuclear option,' changing the rules to allow a simple majority to proceed."


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