Schumer: I have ‘serious doubts’ about Neil Gorsuch

Liz Goodwin
·Senior National Affairs Reporter

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said he has “serious doubts” about whether Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick, Neil Gorsuch, should be confirmed. Schumer, the leader of the Senate Democrats, made the statement shortly after the announcement Tuesday night and suggested that he’s willing to filibuster Trump’s choice for the high court.

“Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women’s rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice on the Court,” Schumer said in a statement.

The Senate minority leader also emphasized that the Senate should keep its 60-vote standard — the amount necessary to defeat a filibuster — to approve Supreme Court nominees, calling it “a bar that was met by each of President Obama’s nominees.” Schumer said it is up to Gorsuch to prove he is in the “mainstream” and willing to defend the Constitution from “abuses of the executive branch.”

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Carolyn Kaster/AP)
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Judge Neil Gorsuch. (Photos: Alex Wong/Getty Images, Carolyn Kaster/AP)

Several other Democratic senators released statements Tuesday night saying they have concerns that Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, favors the rights of corporations over individual rights. “It is imperative that a new justice be prepared to defend the rights of all Americans, not just the wealthy and large corporations,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders. A handful of senators, including Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., announced that they were already opposed to Gorsuch.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has hinted that he’d be willing to change the institution’s rules to lower the 60-vote bar to 50 votes, which would likely result in Gorsuch sailing through the nomination process. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate.

Schumer suggested earlier this month that Justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat was “stolen” from Democrats, since Republicans refused to hold a hearing for Merrick Garland, former President Barack Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, who died last February. Schumer said he would hold the vacancy open for as long as he could if the nominee did not meet Democrats’ standards.

Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid eliminated the 60-vote bar for Cabinet nominees, but the standard remains for the Supreme Court. It was meant to require some bipartisan support for confirming the president’s appointments to the high court.

The Trump administration will have help pushing Democrats to back their pick, however. Carrie Severino, chief counsel for the Judicial Crisis Network, is launching an advertising campaign to target Senate Democrats who are up for reelection in 2018 in states that voted for Trump. “We will ultimately force vulnerable Senators to choose between obstructing and keeping their Senate seats,” she said in a statement.