The 5 Most Compelling Democratic Arguments to Filibuster Neil Gorsuch
On Monday, two weeks after the confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch began, the Democratic Party secured the 41 votes needed to block President Trump's Supreme Court nominee. In their opposition, senators from Al Franken (D-MN) to Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) cited the GOP's treatment of Judge Merrick Garland and the unique threat Gorsuch poses to the court, should he be confirmed.
With Mitch McConnell threatening to nuke the filibuster and one of the Senate's essential checks on the power of the president, here are five of the senators' most compelling arguments.
1. Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)
During the confirmation hearing, Franken spoke of Republicans' "unprecedented obstructionism" after Merrick Garland's appointment and lamented the Trump pick's staunch conservatism.
"Justice Scalia embraced a rigid view of our constitution, a view blind to the equal dignity of LGBT people and hostile to women’s reproductive rights; a view that often refused to acknowledge the lingering animus in laws and policies that perpetuate the racial divide," Franken remarked.
The document Scalia interpreted was “very different from the one that I have sworn to support and defend," he added.
Two weeks later, Franken excoriated Gorsuch for previously siding with TransAm, a trucking company that fired truck driver Alphonse Maddin for leaving his disabled vehicle in the freezing cold.
"[Judge Gorsuch] would have done exactly what the driver did," Franken exclaimed. "[He has] no good answer to the question in the hearing... [because] that would make his dissent look every bit as absurd as it was."
2. Sen. Amy Klobucher (D-MN)
The Minnesota senator has openly derided the Supreme Court nominee's strict constructionism.
"Many of the issues we face today are those that this country's founders never considered and in fact never could have considered because of all the social change and innovation that has taken place," Klobucher told Gorsuch. "We are no longer dealing with plows, bonnets and colony debts in England, but instead driverless cars, drones and cyber-crime, and those were just the topics of the hearings I attended last week."
Two weeks later, she blasted her Republican colleagues in an impassioned defense of the filibuster.
"I hear them spout righteous indignation about the Senate rules," said Klobucher, sitting beside Franken. "The Senate decided to sit on [Garland's appointment] for almost an entire year, something we have not seen since the Civil War."
3. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)
During confirmation hearings, Feinstein cited several cases from Gorsuch's record to demonstrate why his decisions would hurt not just Democrats but Trump's base.
"In another case, Judge Gorsuch wrote a separate opinion, this time to challenge a long-standing legal doctrine that allows agencies to write regulations necessary to effectively implement the laws Congress passes and the president signs," Feinstein pointed out. "It's called the Chevron doctrine."
Justice Antonin Scalia had argued in support of Chevron, which he praised for allowing "flexibility, and appropriate political participation, in the administrative process.”
4. Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)
After spending a good deal of time reviewing Gorsuch's record, the senator from Delaware admitted he was taken aback by the nominee's "tendency to go beyond the issues that need to be resolved in the case before him."
"I've seen a pattern in which you file dissents... even concurrences to your own majority opinions to explore broader issues than what's necessary, to revisit long-settled precedent and to promote dramatic changes to the law," he added.
5. Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
Hirono observed that "minorities are not a priority" for Gorsuch.
"You rarely seem to rule in favor of the little guy," she told the nominee. "You consistently choose corporations and powerful interests over people, but more than that, you have gone to great lengths to disagree with your colleagues on the Tenth Circuit so that you can explain why some obscure or novel interpretation of a particular word in a statute must result in [a ruling] for a corporation instead of an individual who has suffered real-life harm."
After reviewing several cases, she recalled that Gorsuch once "found a difference between a floor hole and a floor opening, in order to side with the corporation trying to avoid a citation for safety issues."
"Truly [it was] the case of a distinction without a difference," she told him. "It's like arguing whether your nomination is [up for a] vacancy or an opening on the Supreme Court."
Watch Gorsuch's confirmation hearing: