Give Neil Gorsuch an Up-Or-Down Vote
Democrats are threatening to hold up a qualified Supreme Court nominee for one reason: to hurt Donald Trump.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is an exceptional nominee for the Supreme Court. He’s recognized by people on both sides of the aisle as an accomplished, principled and fair jurist. When he was nominated to his current seat on the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 2006, no one cast a single negative vote against his nomination: not then-Senators Obama, or Clinton, or Biden, or Kennedy — and not the current Democratic leader of the Senate, Sen. Chuck Schumer, either. Back then, Senator Schumer found Gorsuch so uncontroversial that he didn’t even ask for a roll-call vote. Now, Schumer says he has such “serious concerns” about Gorsuch that he’s threatening to filibuster his nomination and leave open the seat indefinitely.
Well, we know Gorsuch hasn’t changed. In the years since his unopposed Senate confirmation — when then-Senator Ken Salazar, a Democrat, lauded him for his “sense of fairness and impartiality that is a keystone of being a judge” — he’s proven himself to be exactly that. He’s a “brilliant, terrific guy who would do the Court’s work with distinction,” in the words of President Obama’s law school mentor. He’s one of the “most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our nation over the last century,” in the telling of President Obama’s former top Supreme Court lawyer. He’s a judge known for applying the law “fairly and consistently,” not according to his own ideology, as the left-leaning Denver Post highlighted. Even liberal talk show host Rachel Maddow couldn’t help but admit that Judge Gorsuch is a “relatively mainstream choice”— nor did she forget to remind us that it would be “radical” for Democrats to filibuster his nomination.
So why would Democrats contemplate doing something so radical and out of the mainstream now — against a superbly qualified judge Democrats didn’t raise objections to before, a man Democrats have praised many times since?
Turns out, much of the opposition we’re seeing from far left groups and Democratic senators isn’t really about Judge Gorsuch at all. It’s about President Donald Trump.
Even before the president announced Gorsuch as his nominee, we read headlines like, “Democrats Launch Scorched-Earth Strategy Against Trump.” We heard the Democratic leader promise to fight whoever he nominated to the court “tooth-and-nail.” Now some of Senator Schumer’s colleagues are attempting to paint this nominee as an “extremist” and are calling for a filibuster before the ink is even dry on his nomination.
Look, we all get it. Democrats are having a tough time coming to grips with the election results. They wish it had turned out differently. I understand their disappointment. I know their base is rioting against reality. I know the far left is demanding obstructionist tactics at any cost. I realize that Leader Schumer in particular is under immense pressure from the radical fringes of our politics. But he and his party can’t allow themselves to be led around by the far left.
Senator Schumer recently declared on the Senate floor that he would seek to deny a straight up-or-down vote for Judge Gorsuch because, he claimed, Republicans had “insisted” on similar treatment for President Obama’s nominees.
Only thing is, we hadn’t. The Democratic leader was forced to return to the floor to correct himself. I think we all appreciated Leader Schumer making clear to America that Republicans did not — not — insist on supermajority 60-vote thresholds for either of President Obama’s two first-term Supreme Court nominees. We allowed straight up-or-down votes for President Clinton’s nominees too. There’s no reason someone as widely respected on both sides of the aisle like Judge Gorsuch should be treated differently now.
I’ve been consistent all along that the next president — Democrat or Republican — should select the next nominee for the Supreme Court. I maintained that view even when many thought that president would be Hillary Clinton. But now the election season is over, and we have a new president who has nominated a superbly qualified candidate to fill that ninth seat.
Democrats now have a choice. They can tear our country apart further, or they can stand up and lead. I invite Leader Schumer and his party, who repeatedly declared how necessary it was to have nine justices on the court, to now follow through on their refrain of “we need nine” by giving this tremendously well-qualified nominee fair consideration and an up-or-down vote.
By: Sen. Mitch McConnell
Related Issues: Senate Democrats, Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations