Democratic lawmakers have been trying to keep up with the surge of progressive activism following Donald Trump’s inauguration, and on Tuesday they let the base know they’ve heard their calls for more obstructionism. After boycotting votes on two of President Trump’s cabinet nominees earlier in the day, a handful of Democratic senators announced — immediately after Trump revealed his Supreme Court pick — that they have no intention of voting for Neil Gorsuch.
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said on Monday that he would filibuster anyone who is not Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Obama but never even given a hearing. Following Trump’s reveal, Merkley vowed to do everything in his power to stop the “stolen seat” from being filled by an “illegitimate and extreme nominee,” though he did not mention Gorsuch by name.
Ohio senator Sherrod Brown said he’d already reviewed Gorsuch’s record, and won’t support a nominee who “does not recognize that corporations are not people.”
Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts pointed to issues with Gorsuch’s record as well, saying, “We don’t need another justice who spends his time looking out for those with money and influence.”
Her fellow Massachusetts senator Ed Markey said Gorsuch is “outside the judicial mainstream,” and he’ll vote against him because his opinions have “demonstrated hostility to women’s reproductive rights, commonsense environmental regulations, and the rights of workers, consumers, and the disabled.”
Oregon senator Ron Wyden announced his opposition in a series of tweets, saying none of his colleagues should back Gorsuch if they believe “individual rights are reserved to the people, not the government.”
At least a dozen other Democratic senators released statements criticizing Gorsuch, though they stopped short of a commitment to vote against him.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer also issued a statement on Tuesday night suggesting that Democrats will filibuster a Supreme Court nominee for only the second time in modern history. “The Senate must insist upon 60 votes for any Supreme Court nominee, a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees,” he said. “The burden is on Judge Neil Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and, in this new era, willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the executive branch.”
Assuming all 52 Republicans support Gorsuch, they would need eight Democratic votes to break the filibuster. According to The Hill, seven Senate Democrats have publicly expressed reservations about their colleagues’ plan to block his confirmation, suggesting that they shouldn’t force Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to nuke the filibuster.
Gorsuch will almost certainly wind up on the Supreme Court, but if Democrats don’t put up a fight, they could face a backlash from their base. Several liberal groups, including MoveOn.org and Democracy for America, are promising to oppose any senator who doesn’t do everything they can to block Trump’s nominee.
“If any of them vote for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, we’re going to mark them down as collaborators,” Murshed Zaheed, head of the progressive group CREDO, told Vox. “If Chuck Schumer wants to maintain any credibility as a progressive leader, he needs to shut the Supreme Court seat down. And if he doesn’t do it, there will be a massive revolt.”