Democrats Already Wavering on Gorsuch Opposition

With Supreme Court Nominee Niel Gorsuch engaging in a bit of possibly choreographed “independence” from the president who nominated him, getting pats on the back for taking a bold stand that the judiciary should be independent from the executive, I thought it would be worth catching up on where things stood in his confirmation process.

DecisionDesk HQ is doing a really good job of tracking Senator’s statements regarding whether or not they will support a cloture vote on Gorsuch’s nomination. Just to clarify, this would be the vote the Senate takes where they agree to have a vote. Cloture is ending debate, and because of filibuster rules that remain in place for Supreme Court nominees, Republicans need 60 votes to move Gorsuch on to the final, majority-wins vote that would confirm him. Here’s how DecisionDesk has Senators scored as of this morning:

supremecourtnomineeupdate02092017

So, having 52 seats in the Senate – and with each of their Senators already a solid Yes on cloture, Republicans need 8 Democrats to go along with them to end debate and get Gorsuch on the Supreme Court. Right now, there are 19 Democrats that potentially will go along. I’ve divided them into the following categories:

Already gone

First, Joe Manchin is on record as supporting cloture on Gorsuch. So the Republican starting point is 53 down, 7 to go.

Uh oh

If you’ve followed this site at all, you already know that red-state democrats like Heidi Heitkamp and Joe Donnelly have not had much of an issue voting with Republicans so far this year. They’re fairly likely to end up in the Yes column on cloture and on a final vote. That means the GOP is likely already at 55 of the 60 votes they need.

The swing votes

Those remaining five votes will likely come from the following group, in rough order of likelihood: Jon Tester of Montana, Angus King of Maine, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Gary Peters of Michigan, Mark Warner of Virginia, and Catherine Cortez-Masto of Nevada. Republicans can lose one of this group and still hit the magic number for cloture. Tester has been a surprisingly reliable vote in the Senate so far (batting .545 on the Senate Tracking Sheet), but as a red-stater with impending reelection, he can’t be entirely counted on. Neither can McCaskill, and King has had one of the worst records so far this term. Some or all of this group could seek some kind of shelter by voting for cloture and then voting against Gorsuch on final approval, which would work if we weren’t all paying attention, right?

Come on, really?

Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut, Maggie Hassan and Jean Shaheen of New Hampshire, Richard Durbin of Illinois, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper and Chris Coons of Delaware, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and Michael Bennett of Colorado are conspicuous as blue-state Democrats on the list of maybes. They are all blue-state Democrats, and all have had pretty good voting records so far, opposing Jeff Sessions, Rex Tillerson, and Betsy DeVos just last week.

Remember, our approach to this should be pretty clear – Judge Merrick Garland was not appointed the courtesy of hearings, let alone a vote. The seat that was Barack Obama’s to fill was purposefully and politically held empty so that the man who lost the last presidential election by 3 million votes could fill it. It should not stand. Gorsuch should not get a final vote and should be filibustered. Any Democrat who doesn’t vote for the filibuster is complicit in allowing a Supreme Court seat – a lifetime appointment – to be stolen.

It’s that simple.

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