The Senate voted today to officially begin the debate on the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court.
Meanwhile Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said he has the votes to stop a Democratic filibuster and to change Senate rules to prevent filibusters of Supreme Court nominees. Such a vote, often called the nuclear option, merely requires a majority vote.
Here is more on the vote to set the calendar to begin debate on Gorsuch’s nomination:
Just four Democrats joined Republicans in voting to begin the debate — the same four who are expected to buck their party’s filibuster in a vote Thursday, and to vote to finally confirm the judge Friday.
Asked if he had the votes to win a nuclear showdown, Mr. McConnell flatly replied that he did.
“We’re moving forward with the Gorsuch nomination to the Supreme Court that should be wrapped up sometime Friday. It appears as if cloture will not be invoked, but we’ll find out on Thursday. But either way, we’ll be moving forward and confirming Judge Gorsuch on Friday,” the Kentucky Republican said.
The Senate voted 55-44 to begin the debate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday voted 11-9 along party lines to move Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination to the full Senate.
Family Research Council president Tony Perkins applauded the Senate Judiciary Committee approving Judge Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“On Election Day, the American people spoke clearly about this Supreme Court vacancy — one of their very top concerns. Voters want change and that’s why they elected Donald Trump. Today, the Senate Judiciary Committee showed they were listening and approved a judge with integrity, experience and dedication to the Constitution.
“For weeks, support has been building for Judge Gorsuch because he is a mainstream nominee who will interpret the Constitution as it was written, not according to the shifting political winds. That’s why I believe, in the end, he will overcome a filibuster by Democrats despite the fact that some, such as Minority Leader Schumer, seem more interested in finding a super-legislator than a replacement for Antonin Scalia. I believe those senators who attempt a filibuster against Judge Gorsuch will face tougher reelection next year.
“Family Research Council calls on the U.S. Senate to move swiftly to confirm Judge Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court,” concluded Perkins.
Americans United for Life Acting President Clarke Forsythe said the vote “is a step in the right direction. The Senate should vote now to confirm Judge Gorsuch, given his commendable record and respect for the rule of law—if necessary by changing the Senate’s filibuster.”
Forsythe continued: “An examination of Judge Gorsuch’s record reveals a jurist who carefully considers the laws and facts before reaching a legal judgment. That kind of measured respect for the Constitution was absolutely absent when an activist Supreme Court combined Roe v. Wade and Doe v. Bolton to wipe out every abortion-related law in the country, establishing the Supreme Court as a National Abortion Control Board. As a result, a rarely monitored, highly secretive, and very lucrative abortion industry was able to operate in ways harmful and even deadly for women and their unborn children.”
In a letter sent to the Senate, Forsythe recommended confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, especially in light of his commitment to the original public meaning of the Constitution. Forsythe wrote that the judge’s statements made during the 2006 Senate confirmation hearing that led to his unanimous confirmation to the Tenth Circuit, were a sign of his respect for the separation of powers, which keeps the branches of government in check. Gorsuch then stated,” “Judges must allow the elected branches of government to flourish and citizens, through their elected representatives, to make laws appropriate to the facts and circumstances of the day. Judges must avoid the temptation to usurp the roles of the legislative and executive branches and must appreciate the advantages these democratic institutions have in crafting and adapting social policy as well as their special authority derived from the consent and mandate of the people, to do so.”
During three days of questioning, Gorsuch made it clear that he does not consider Roe v. Wade a “super precedent” that cannot be overturned. He also defended his role in cases supporting the religious Liberties of Little Sisters of the Poor and Hobby Lobby and their attempts to stop the Obama Administration from forcing them to pay for abortion drugs for their employees.
Gorsuch also defended his opposition to assisted suicide — saying that it is not appropriate to intentionally take the life of another human being.
During their questioning over the course of the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, pro-abortion Democrats repeatedly questioned Gorsuch about abortion and those religious liberty cases.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to approve the Gorsuch nomination, but Democrats have signaled their intent to filibuster the nomination on the senate floor. Here is more on what to expect:
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his expected plans to vote “no” on Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court and promised that Republicans would have to overcome a Democratic filibuster in order to seat him.
“I have come to a decision after careful deliberation. I have concluded that I cannot support Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court,” the New York Democrat said Thursday.
Schumer went on to say that Gorsuch will have to overcome a “cloture vote” and “earn his confirmation.”
The Democratic leader was referencing a planned Democratic filibuster that will require Republicans to persuade eight Democrats to vote in favor of his nomination in order to reach the 60-vote threshold required to shut down a filibuster.
Schumer said Republicans pushing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to change the Senate rules to allow a simple, 51-vote majority to confirm high court nominees are misguided.
When he was Senate leader, Harry Reid changed the rules to required just 51 votes for a Supreme Court nominee and Republicans are expected to follow suit if necessary.
The head of one pro-life group told LifeNews the Democrats’ decision to filibuster is wrongheaded.
Anne Fox, President of Massachusetts Citizens for Life, said “Judge Gorsuch will do what a Supreme Court justice is supposed to do: interpret the law, not make it. He knows that laws are to be made by legislative bodies, not courts. He is eminently well-qualified. Petty partisan politics should not get in the way of such an important appointment.”
Olivia Gans Turner, President of the Virginia Society for Human Life, added that Gorsuch “is man of integrity and deserves to be supported by the Senate of the United States.”
She said Democrats “need to do the right thing and vote to support Judge Gorsuch.”
President Donald Trump nominated the federal appeals Court Judge with strong support from pro-life organizations that point to his track record as supporting religious freedom for pro-life organizations refusing to be forced to pay for abortions. They also noted his opposition to assisted suicide and his support for a state fighting to defund Planned Parenthood abortion business.
The abortion giant slammed Gorsuch for supporting Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor in their bids to not be forced to pay for abortion-causing drugs in their employee health care plans.
“Gorsuch has also worked to undermine access to essential health care — ruling that bosses should be able to deny women birth control coverage. His record shows a disturbing willingness to let ideology overrule his constitutional duty to uphold and respect clearly established precedent protecting our fundamental liberties, including Roe v. Wade and Whole Woman’s Health,” Planned Parenthood said.
The 49-year-old Judge Gorsuch, if confirmed, would replace pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia – who supporting overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing states to once again provide legal protection for unborn children.
Justice Gorsuch is currently a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which includes the districts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as the Eastern, Northern and Western districts of Oklahoma. He has served as a federal judge since August 2006 and was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed unanimously by the Senate.
The pro-life legal scholars who know him best say he is a strong originalist, believing that the Constitution should only be interpreted as the Founding Fathers intended. That would him squarely in the legal camp of Justice Scalia.
One of the biggest problems pro-life advocates have with the Supreme Court is that it invented a so-called right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. But Gorsuch’s writings indicate he opposes that kind of thinking. In a 2005 National Review article, Gorsuch wrote that liberals rely on the courts too much to made social policy.
This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there’s little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs–real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce–are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide.
He said liberal activists rely on the judicial system “as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
On direct pro-life matters, Gorsuch sided with the state of Utah in its attempt to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
Gorsuch sided with pro-life Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood. After his decision, the 10th Circuit Court decided against re-hearing Planned Parenthood v. Gary Herbert, after the court previously ordered Utah to fund Planned Parenthood. Gorsch dissented in the case and wrote:
Respectfully, this case warrants rehearing. As it stands, the panel opinion leaves litigants in preliminary injunction disputes reason to worry that this court will sometimes deny deference to district court factual findings; relax the burden of proof by favoring attenuated causal claims our precedent disfavors; and invoke arguments for reversal untested by the parties, unsupported by the record, and inconsistent with principles of comity. Preliminary injunction disputes like this one recur regularly and ensuring certainty in the rules governing them, and demonstrating that we will apply those rules consistently to all matters that come before us, is of exceptional importance to the law, litigants, lower courts, and future panels alike. I respectfully dissent.
As National Review pro-life legal scholar Ed Whelan notes:
I’d like to take note of his remarkable failure to acknowledge, much less credit Gorsuch for, Gorsuch’s powerful dissent (see pp. 16-27 here) one month ago from the Tenth Circuit’s denial of rehearing en banc in Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert. As the faithful reader will recall from these posts of mine, in the aftermath of the Center for Medical Progress’s release of videos depicting various Planned Parenthood affiliates’ ugly involvement in harvesting body parts, Utah governor Gary Herbert directed state agencies “to cease acting as an intermediary for pass-through federal funds” to Planned Parenthood’s Utah affiliate. But after the district court denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction against Herbert’s directive, a divided panel, on very weak reasoning, ruled that Planned Parenthood was entitled to a preliminary injunction. Gorsuch’s dissent dismantles the panel majority’s reasoning.
Would a Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch be inclined to overturn the decades-old decision fostering abortion on demand? His record suggests he is open to doing so.
In the panel ruling in Games-Perez, Gorsuch did indeed regard himself as bound to abide by controlling circuit precedent, just as nearly every circuit judge not named Stephen Reinhardt also does. But Gorsuch didn’t stop there. In a 20-page opinion, he urged the en banc Tenth Circuit to reconsider and overrule the wrong precedent.
Gorsuch also has made pro-life comments about abortion and strongly opposes assisted suicide. He has written a book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, which (as Princeton University Press puts it) “builds a nuanced, novel, and powerful moral and legal argument against legalization [of assisted suicide and euthanasia], one based on a principle that, surprisingly, has largely been overlooked in the debate—the idea that human life is intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.”
Meanwhile, as National Review reports, “Gorsuch wrote a powerful dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc in a case involving funding of Planned Parenthood.” NR indicates Gorsuch has written “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Democrats have already promised to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee.
Sen. Jeff Merkle, a pro-abortion Oregon Democrat, said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick other than pro-abortion Judge Merrick garland — who pro-abortion president Barack Obama named to replace pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia.
“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
Gorsuch is 49 years old. He and his wife, Louise, have two daughters and live in Boulder, Colorado.