Bipartisan Opposition to Democrats' Partisan Filibuster of Judge Gorsuch
‘If Democrats follow through on their threat to subject this widely-respected judge to the first successful partisan filibuster in the history of the Senate, then I doubt there is a single nominee from this president that they could ever support. After all, the Democratic Leader basically said as much before a nomination was even made. But it’s not too late for our friends to do the right thing.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch:
“Later today, due to the threat of an unprecedented partisan filibuster, I’ll file cloture on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. It should be upsetting to everyone that our colleagues across the aisle have brought the Senate to this new low, and on such an impressive nominee with such broad bipartisan support.
“Judge Gorsuch is independent, he’s fair, he’s got one of the most impressive resumes we’ve ever seen, and he’s earned the highest possible rating from the group the Democratic Leader calls the ‘gold standard’ for evaluating judicial nominations.
“No one seriously disputes his sterling credentials to serve on the Court. And yet, in the Judiciary Committee, Democrats just withheld support for him. On the floor, Democrats say they’ll launch a partisan filibuster against him — something Republicans have never done. No one in the Senate Republican Conference has ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. Not one Republican has ever done that.
“Later today, colleagues will continue to debate the nomination of Judge Gorsuch. They’ll discuss how completely unprecedented it would be for Democrats to actually follow through on this filibuster threat — to actually block an up-or-down vote for this nominee even though a bipartisan majority of the Senate supports his nomination — and what the negative consequences would be for the Senate if they succeed.
“I’ll be listening with interest. I hope Senators in both parties will listen as well. ‘There has never been,’ as the New York Times and others reported last week, ‘a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee.’ Never in the history of our country. Not once in the nearly 230-year history of the Senate.
“The last time a Republican president nominated someone to the Supreme Court, Democrats tried to filibuster him too. That was Samuel Alito in 2006. Cooler heads ultimately prevailed. Even former President Obama, who as a Senator participated in that effort, now admits that he regrets joining that filibuster effort.
“Democrats are now being pushed by Far-Left interest groups into doing something truly detrimental to this body and to our country. They seem to be hurtling toward the abyss this time, and trying to take the Senate with them. They need to reconsider. Perhaps they’ll recall their own words from the last time they flirted with a partisan Supreme Court filibuster.
“Back then, the current top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee said she opposed attempts to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. ‘[Just because the nominee] is a man I might disagree with,’ she said, ‘That doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be on the court.’ She said the filibuster should be reserved for something truly outrageous.
“Yesterday, the top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee announced her intention to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee before us because she disagreed with him. It’s just the kind of thing she said the filibuster should not be used for. This is emblematic of what we’re seeing in Democrats’ strained rationales for their unprecedented filibuster threat.
“It seems they’re opposed to Judge Gorsuch’s nomination because Far-Left special interest groups are upset about other things — the way the election turned out, mostly — and threatening the careers of any Democrat who opposes blind resistance to everything this president touches.
“Democrats have come up with all manner of excuses to justify opposing this outstanding nominee. They ask for his personal opinions on issues that could come before him and pose hypotheticals they know he is ethically precluded from answering. They cherry-pick a few cases out of the thousands in which he’s participated. They invent fake 60-vote standards that fact-checkers call bogus. They are, to paraphrase my friend the Judiciary Chairman, a no vote in search of a reason to vote that way. What they can’t lay a glove on is the nominee’s record and independence — the kind of things that should actually be swaying our vote — and that’s quite telling.
“If Democrats follow through on their threat to subject this widely-respected judge to the first successful partisan filibuster in the history of the Senate, then I doubt there is a single nominee from this president that they could ever support. After all, the Democratic Leader basically said as much before a nomination was even made.
“But it’s not too late for our friends to do the right thing. You know, we on this side of the aisle are no strangers to political pressure. We can empathize with what our Democratic colleagues might be going through right now. But part of the job you sign up for here is to do what you know is right in the end.
“When President Clinton nominated Stephen Breyer, I voted to confirm him. When President Clinton nominated Ruth Bader Ginsburg, I voted to confirm her. I thought it was the right thing to do. After all, he won the election. He was the president. The president gets to appoint Supreme Court justices. When President Obama nominated Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, I led my party in working to ensure they received an up-or-down vote — not a filibuster. We were in exactly the same position that our Democratic friends are today—no filibuster. We thought it was the right thing to do.
“It’s not because we harbored illusions that we’d usually agree with these nominees of Democrat presidents. Listen to this, Madame President, we even protested when then-Majority Leader Reid tried to file cloture on the Kagan nomination. We talked him out of it. We said it wasn’t necessary. And Jeff Sessions, the current Attorney General was the ranking member of the Judiciary Committee at the time. Jeff Sessions talking Harry Reid out of filing cloture because it wasn’t necessary. We did not want even the pretense of a possibility of a filibuster to be on the table.
“Well, it’s quite a different story from what we’re seeing today. But this is where our Democratic colleagues have taken us. Will a partisan minority of the Senate really prevent the Senate's pro-Gorsuch, bipartisan majority from confirming him? Will they really subject this eminently qualified nominee to the first successful partisan filibuster in American history?
"Americans will be watching. History will be watching. And the future of the Senate will hang on their choice.”
Related Issues: Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations, Nominations