What Democrats Are Doing to Block Trump's Supreme Court Pick Is a Big Deal

March 23rd 2017

Danielle DeCourcey

Democrats don't want Judge Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court and on Thursday Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said he and other Democrats will filibuster President Donald Trump's nominee. That in turn could lead Republicans to follow through on a threat to revise Senate rules so Gorsuch can be confirmed with fewer votes.

The filibuster could make Republicans go "nuclear."

“If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees, and George Bush’s last two nominees — the answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee,” Schumer said on Thursday.

Right now, 60 senators have to vote to proceed to a confirmation vote, but no Democrats have publicly expressed a willingness to support Gorsuch. As a result, Republicans have threatened to use the "nuclear option" to push Gorsuch through, reducing the number of votes needed for confirmation to just 51. Democrats themselves did that to push though some of President Barack Obama's judicial nominees in 2013, but it has never been used to confirm Supreme Court nominees. 

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted that he opposes Gorsuch's nomination because of the judge's conservative record on workers' rights and women's reproductive issues. 

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) joined abortion rights advocates last week and stood outside the Supreme Court steps, showcasing 1 million signatures opposing Gorsuch's nomination.

Gorsuch has never made a direct ruling on abortion, and some conservatives argue Gorsuch's his record on reproductive rights is actually not conservative enough. At the same time, pro-choice organizations argue that his opinions in some religious freedom cases, and his book on assisted suicide, point to an anti-abortion leaning.

Workers' rights advocates have also expressed concerns about Gorsuch's opinion in the "Frozen Trucker Case," where he was the only judge to side with a company instead of a stranded truck driver, Alphonse Maddin, who was fired after he left his disabled cargo on the side of the road after he began showing signs of hypothermia while waiting for assistance.

Al Franken speaks at Neil Gorsuch's hearing.

At Gorsuch's confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Al Franken called Gorsuch's 2016 opinion in the case "absurdity," referencing his previous job as an Saturday Night Live cast member.

“Now, I had a career in identifying absurdity,” Franken said. “And I know it when I see it. And it makes me — you know, it makes me question your judgment."

RELATED: 3 Things You Need to Know About the Case That Al Franken Slammed Today