The left-leaning New York Times editorial board said Senate Democrats should avoid attempting to block a hearing for federal Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick to fill a vacant Supreme Court seat.
In an editorial published Tuesday night, shortly after Trump announced Gorsuch’s nomination, the Times said that Gorsuch, if confirmed, would be taking a “stolen seat.” But it said if Democrats try to filibuster his nomination, Republicans might change Senate rules to their advantage and push Gorsuch through.
“[A]ny Democratic impulse to mimic the Republican blockade by filibustering Judge Gorsuch would be understandable,” the paper said. “But Senate Democrats should be wary of stooping to the Republicans’ level, especially because any such effort is likely to prove futile, since Republicans have the votes to simply eliminate the use of the filibuster against Supreme Court nominees. The hearings should, however, present Democrats with an opportunity to probe Judge Gorsuch’s views.”
That’s a reference to the possibility that Republicans could change Senate rules unilaterally on their own, to allow Supreme Court nominees to advance with just 51 votes, not 60. That change would let the GOP confirm anyone they like for the Supreme Court, as long as they stick together.
Gorsuch was chosen by Trump to fill the seat unexpectedly left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia early last year. Though then-President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland as the replacement, the GOP-controlled Senate said it would wait for the election to hold a hearing.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has suggested he would go to extremes to stop any nominee “outside of the mainstream.”
Though widely seen as a conservative, Gorsuch is also highly respected among his peers and Senate Democrats previously voted to confirm him for his current role on the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.