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Top Senate Democrat Says Supreme Court Nominee Gorsuch Faces 'Uphill Climb'

  • Ken Schwartz

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, a New York Democrat, speaks with reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 28, 2017.

U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer says President Donald Trump's choice for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, faces an “uphill climb” for confirmation.

“The bottom line is very simple,” Schumer said Tuesday. “Gorsuch did not acquit himself well at the hearings and did not impress our caucus.” He said it will be a “real uphill climb” for the nominee to get the simple 51 vote majority he needs to join the court.

Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, speak with Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, left, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 21, 2017.
Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., right, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., center, speak with Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch, left, on Capitol Hill in Washington, March 21, 2017.

Durbin will vote no

The number two Senate Democrat, Dick Durbin, said Tuesday he will vote against Gorsuch. Schumer and 23 other Democrats already have said they will vote no.

The Senate Judiciary Committee plans to vote on Gorsuch next Monday. If he wins there, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has scheduled a vote in the full Senate on April 7.

McConnell says Gorsuch is “extraordinarily well qualified” to sit on the Supreme Court, and predicts he will be confirmed.

FILE - Senate Respublican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Republican colleagues, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 6, 2016.
FILE - Senate Respublican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, flanked by Republican colleagues, speaks to the media on Capitol Hill in Washington, Dec. 6, 2016.

Democrats plan to filibuster

Durbin echoed the fears of many Democrats when he said Gorsuch would “favor corporations and special interest elites at the expense of American workers and families.”

Democrats are still seething that McConnell refused to hold hearings last year for former President Barack Obama's choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Judge Merrick Garland. They plan to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination in the hopes it will be withdrawn.

It would take 60 votes to break the filibuster. Republicans hold a 52 to 48 majority in the Senate.

'Nuclear option?'

If McConnell cannot get the 60 votes to end debate, he could call for what is known as the “nuclear option” — a change in Senate rules calling for a simple majority to end the filibuster and hold a conformation vote.

The Supreme Court is currently split between four liberal-leaning and four conservative-leaning justices since conservative Antonin Scalia died last year.

If Gorsuch is confirmed, the court would be restored to a five-to-four conservative-leaning majority.

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