Senate Democrats Search For Excuse to Filibuster Judge Gorsuch

‘They aren’t looking out for what’s best for the Court, for the Senate, or for the country. They simply refuse to accept the outcome of the election. We realize the enormous pressure that our Democratic colleagues are under. It’s why we’re hearing talks of some mythical 60-vote standard that doesn’t exist. Just ask the fact-checkers that have repeatedly debunked that idea.’

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks today on the Senate floor regarding Judge Neil Gorsuch, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court:

“Since Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated to the Supreme Court, Senate Democrats have searched high and low for a reason to oppose him.

“They looked at his background — and found a Columbia alum, a Harvard law graduate, and an Oxford scholar.  They looked at his reputation — and found an impartial and fair judge, an incisive and eloquent writer, and a humble and even-tempered man.  They looked at his record as a judge — and found someone who follows the facts where they lead without favoring one party over another; someone respected by Democrats, Independents, and Republicans alike; and someone who understands his role is to interpret the law, not legislate from the bench.

“Our colleagues across the aisle also had the opportunity to spend hours with Judge Gorsuch at his confirmation hearing. Once again, they found little to hang their hat on when it comes to a reason to oppose Gorsuch.  Instead these hearings made clear a point recently stated by a board member of the liberal American Constitution Society: ’The Senate should confirm him because there is no principled reason to vote no’ on Judge Gorsuch.

“That was David Frederick — a self-proclaimed ‘longtime supporter of Democratic candidates and progressive causes’ — in a recent Washington Post op-ed. This prominent Democrat said he supports Judge Gorsuch because he ’…embodies a reverence for our country’s values and legal system.’ ‘We should applaud such independence of mind and spirit in Supreme Court nominees,’ he said.  But unfortunately, instead of coming together behind this nominee, some of our colleagues continue to press forward with convoluted excuses as to why they won’t support him.

“Just yesterday, my friend the Democratic Leader came to the floor to share his reasoning.  He talked about the need for the nominee to be independent and impartial. Well, Judge Gorsuch passes that test, and the American Bar Association — the organization revered as the ‘gold standard’ for evaluating judges by the Democratic Leader and the former Judiciary Chairman — certainly agrees.  It said, ’Based on the writings, interviews, and analyses we scrutinized to reach our rating, we discerned that Judge Gorsuch believes strongly in the independence of the judicial branch of government, and we predict that he will be a strong but respectful voice in protecting it.’

“In addition to independence, the Democratic Leader talked about his concern that Judge Gorsuch has earned the support of conservatives. Well, it’s true, Judge Gorsuch has earned the support of Republicans, just as he’s received praise from many on the Left as well — like President Obama’s former Solicitor General Neil Katyal; and President Obama’s legal mentor, Professor Laurence Tribe; and left-leaning law professor E. Donald Elliot; among so many others.

“The Democratic Leader talked about the need for the nominee to offer assurances about how he’d rule on a certain case and assurances that he’d stand up for certain groups. But, as Judge Gorsuch pointed out, nominees are — to quote Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — to offer ‘no hints, no forecasts, no previews’ on how they would rule in certain cases. Similarly, judges are to decide cases based on the facts — not personal views or political preferences.  And finally, the Democratic Leader talked about the importance of a nominee’s record. Well, I’d like to take a moment to remind my colleagues of Judge Gorsuch’s record now. 

“As he said at his hearing, ’I have decided… over 2,700 cases, and my law clerks tell me that 97 percent of them have been unanimous, 99 percent I've been in the majority. They tell me as well,’ he continued, ‘that according to the Congressional Research Service, my opinions have attracted the fewest number of dissents from my colleagues of anyone I've served with that they studied over the last 10 years.’

“More than 2,700 cases…  In the majority on 99%... And part of a unanimous ruling on 97%.  It simply doesn’t get much better than that.  No wonder the American Bar Association gave him its highest rating, unanimously well-qualified.

“So when we hear our Democratic colleagues talking about breaking longstanding precedent to oppose this non-controversial, outstanding judge by mounting the first-ever purely partisan filibuster to try to defeat his nomination, we can only assume one thing: This isn’t about the nominee at all. It’s about a few on the Left whose priority is to obstruct this Senate and this president, whenever and wherever they can. Months after the election, they’re still in campaign mode calling for Senate Democrats to obstruct and resist.

“Let’s be clear: these left-wing groups aren’t concerned by the qualifications of this judge. They aren’t looking out for what’s best for the Court, for the Senate, or for the country. They simply refuse to accept the outcome of the election.

“We realize the enormous pressure that our Democratic colleagues are under. It’s why we’re hearing talks of some mythical 60-vote standard that doesn’t exist. Just ask the fact-checkers that have repeatedly debunked that idea.  A 60-vote threshold has never been the standard for a Supreme Court confirmation — not for President Clinton’s Supreme Court nominees in his first term and not for the Supreme Court nominees of a newly elected President Obama either.

“As The Washington Post fact-checker reminded us again just this morning, ‘Once again: There is no ‘traditional’ 60-vote ‘standard’ or ‘rule’ for Supreme Court nominations, no matter how much or how often Democrats claim otherwise.’

“So let me ask our Democrat friends.  Do they really want to launch the first wholly partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in American history?  Do they really think history books or the American people will look kindly on them for filibustering this amazingly well-qualified and widely-respected nominee?

“Judge Gorsuch has earned an enormous amount of praise from across the political spectrum and from a wide array of publications across the country.

“Like the Chicago Tribune. It recently called for his confirmation, saying that Judge Gorsuch ’has shown himself to be committed to the principle that judges should rule on the law as written, and apply it equally to all.’

“And the Detroit News. The paper said Judge Gorsuch ’is proving himself an even-tempered, deeply knowledgeable nominee who should be confirmed by the Senate. The hearings confirm,’ it said, ’that Gorsuch is [eminently] qualified, and there is nothing radical in his judicial history.’

“And The Denver Post. ‘As we’ve noted several times in the run-up to Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings,’ it said, ‘the 10th Circuit judge possesses the fairness, independence and open-mindedness necessary to make him a marvelous addition to the Supreme Court.’ The Post went on to say that Senators should not ‘[miss] the chance to rally behind Gorsuch — who has been roundly praised here by Democrats and Republicans alike...'

“In other words, Judge Neil Gorsuch should be treated fairly, receive an up-or-down vote, and be confirmed to the Supreme Court, just like all four first-term Supreme Court nominees of Presidents Clinton and Obama.  Because, again, as even those on the Left can’t help but admit: ‘there is no principled reason to vote no’ on Judge Gorsuch. It’s a sentiment we’ve heard from many of our colleagues here on the floor as we’ve been debating Judge Gorsuch’s nomination over the past few weeks.

“As we wait for the Judiciary Committee to report out his nomination, I would encourage Members from both sides to continue taking advantage of available floor time to discuss this important issue. I’d also remind Senators that we’ll have all of next week to continue debating Judge Gorsuch’s nomination too. I look forward to hearing from our colleagues as we work to advance this extremely well-qualified nominee.”

Related Issues: Judicial Nominations, Supreme Court, Nominations