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One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors. -- Plato (429-347 BC)

Friday, February 03, 2017

Democrats Send Mixed Signals on Senate Vote for Neil Gorsuch

Sen Joe Manchin met wit SCOTUS nominee
Neil Gorsuch. He urged his colleagues to put
partisan politics aside & allow the vetting
process to proceed. (Mancin Tweet)
by Rachel del Guidice: Several Democrat senators are sending mixed signals as to whether they will support an up-or-down vote on President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court. The uncertainty could complicate or delay the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch.

With liberal activists calling on Democrats to block Gorsuch’s confirmation, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is demanding a 60-vote threshold. Republicans have 52 seats, meaning they would need to secure the support of eight Democrats to end a filibuster and move to a confirmation vote.

So far, at least eight Democrats have said they support a “vote” on Gorsuch, although their statements aren’t exactly clear on what they mean.

“Various Democrats are trying to use weasely language about a supposed 60-vote standard for Supreme Court nominees in order to try to sound tough to some of their constituents,” said Ed Whelan, president of the Ethics and Public Policy Center. “At the same time, in order to try to appear reasonable to other constituents, they state their support for a floor vote on the Gorsuch nomination.”

Whelan said Democrats “can’t have it both ways.”

There are some like Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia who have clearly ruled out a Democrat-led filibuster of Gorsuch, whom Trump picked Tuesday to fill the late Antonin Scalia’s seat.

“The Senate should hold committee hearings,” Manchin said in statement. “Senators should meet with him, we should debate his qualifications on the Senate floor and cast whatever vote we believe he deserves.”

Manchin, who represents a state that Trump won by 42 percentage points, added, “I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed.”

Manchin met with Gorsuch on Thursday, but did not say if he would vote for his confirmation.

Then there are others like Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri. She initially signaled support for a hearing and vote for Gorsuch, but backtracked after facing criticism.

On Tuesday, before Trump made his announcement, McCaskill tweeted, “We should have a full confirmation hearing process and a vote.”

About an hour later, however, McCaskill added a caveat: it would need to be at a 60-vote threshold.

Schumer said Wednesday that 60 votes should be the “standard” for a Supreme Court nominee.

“Sixty votes is a bar that was met by each of President [Barack] Obama’s nominees,” he said. “At the time, there was no need for a cloture vote, because we knew that each of them would garner over 60 votes.”

The Washington Post’s fact-checker called out Schumer for his 60-vote “standard” on Supreme Court nominees. While 60 votes would be needed to overcome a filibuster, a simple majority is required for confirmation.

Obama’s two nominees, Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, were confirmed with more than 60 votes. But other Supreme Court nominees have been confirmed with less than 60 votes.

Justice Samuel Alito was confirmed by a vote of 58 to 42 in 2006, and Justice Clarence Thomas was confirmed with a vote of 52 to 48 in 1991.

This week, Democrats sent mixed signals about what an up-or-down vote would mean for Gorsuch. In addition to Manchin and McCaskill, six others weighed in with similar statements.
  • Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.: “I will support having a hearing and a vote because I think the president’s nominee deserves that consideration.”
  • Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del.: “I will push for a hearing and I will push for a vote.”
  • Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.: “As I have said part of our job as senators includes considering, debating, and voting on judicial nominations, including to the Supreme Court.”
  • Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.: “I will meet with Judge Gorsuch and support a hearing and vote for him.”
  • Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., asked if Gorsuch should get “a straight up-or-down vote,” told Politico: “Absolutely.”
  • Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.: “Have a hearing and vote.”
What remains unclear is the type of vote these senators have in mind: a cloture vote of 60 or confirmation vote of 51. In the case of McCaskill and Durbin, their statements were enough to rattle liberal activists and prompt responses.

A day after his original statement, Durbin clarified that Gorsuch would need to reach a 60-vote threshold.

Meanwhile, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee attacked Coons for lacking “backbone.” The group’s email to supporters said, “After everything Trump has done since taking office, this is NOT what Democratic backbone needs to look like.”

“Democrats are having an internal debate, and their senators are between a rock and a hard place, causing some senators to swing back and forth,” said Ken Klukowski, senior counsel and director of strategic affairs for First Liberty Institute.

“Some in Democratic ranks argue that they should keep Scalia’s seat open for a full four years,” Klukowski added. “They cannot sustain such opposition for four years. As President Obama said, elections have consequences. The American people voted for this outcome.”

Rachel Bovard, director of policy services at The Heritage Foundation, said Democrats have a losing argument.

“The Democratic Party appears to be split on this issue,” Bovard told The Daily Signal. “However, it’s the height of hypocrisy for the Democrats to demand a 60-vote threshold on Gorsuch after they destroyed the 60-vote threshold for every other judge by going nuclear in 2013.”

In 2013, when Democrats controlled the Senate, they changed the rules to eliminate the filibuster for lower court nominees and executive branch nominees. Trump has advised Senate Republicans to “go nuclear” and make the same standar apply to Supreme Court nominees.

Republicans, however, could also use what is known as the two-speech rule to run out the clock on a Democrat-led filibuster, preserving the 60-vote threshold while also eventually confirming Gorsuch.

Klukowski said that dissension in the Democrat ranks is not sustainable. He expects Gorsuch to win confirmation and be seated on the Supreme Court.

“President Trump made the Supreme Court central to his campaign, including a list with Gorsuch’s name on it,” Klukowski said. “In a sense, the election was Merrick Garland vs. Neil Gorsuch. President Trump won, so Judge Gorsuch won. Senate Democrats need to accept the verdict of the American people, and confirm this well-qualified nominee.”
Rachel del Guidice (@LRacheldG)is a reporter for The Daily Signal. She is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, Forge Leadership Network, and The Heritage Foundation’s Young Leaders Program.

Tags: Democrats, Send Mixed Signals, Senate Vote, Judge Neil Gorsuch, Rachel del Guidice, The Daily Signal To share or post to your site, click on "Post Link". Please mention / link to the ARRA News Service. and "Like" Facebook Page - Thanks!
Posted by Bill Smith at 8:30 AM - Post Link


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