Judiciary

Gillibrand Predicts Gorsuch Will Be Confirmed

One way or another, Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) predicted, Politico reports.

“The New York Democrat said either Gorsuch will garner 60 votes or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will rewrite the Senate rules to allow Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority. It’s a rare concession that Republicans will win what’s shaping up to be a vicious fight between a Democratic base urging party leaders to fight President Donald Trump’s pick and Republicans who have said they will confirm Gorsuch by any means necessary.”

Blumenthal Say We’re Headed for a Constitutional Crisis

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) warned that the country is heading toward a “constitutional crisis,” after President Trump attacked him for sharing Judge Neil Gorsuch’s concerns with the president’s attacks on judges, The Hill reports.

Said Blumenthal: “We’re careening, literally, toward a constitutional crisis. And he’s been nominated by a president who has repeatedly and relentlessly attacked the American judiciary on three separate occasions, their credibility and trust is in question.”

Gorsuch Was Smart to Distance Himself from Trump

Judge Neil Gorsuch told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that he was “demoralized” and “disheartened” by the President Trump’s recent attacks on the judiciary but Rick Hasen thinks it was “a smart political move” likely planned in advance.

“And this is the perfect response politically. It expresses disappointment with restraint. It is not, as some have said, that the president’s attacks on the judiciary are ‘dangerous’ or ‘unprecedented’ or poised to precipitate a constitutional crisis. This is about the least he could get away with saying while still criticizing. And any more could undermine his standing with the President. So it puts him in the sweet spot.”

Gorsuch Criticized Trump Attacks on Judges

Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch told Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) that President Trump’s tweets about the judiciary are “demoralizing” and “disheartening,” CNN reports.

Said Blumenthal: “He said very specifically that they were demoralizing and disheartening and he characterized them very specifically that way. I said they were more than disheartening and I said to him that he has an obligation to make his views clear to the American people, so they understand how abhorrent or unacceptable President Trump’s attacks on the judiciary are.”

9 Democrats Say They’ll Allow Vote for Gorsuch

“In the past week or so, nine Senate Democrats have stated that Judge Neil Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote in the Senate — implying that they would not vote to support a filibuster to block his nomination,” National Review reports.

The nine: Richard Blumenthal, Chris Coons, Joe Manchin, Dick Durbin, Heidi Heitkamp, Claire McCaskill, Jon Tester, Joe Donnelly and Jeanne Shaheen.

“There are 48 Democratic senators (or Democrats and independents who align with the Democrats). If nine oppose a filibuster, there will be only 39 senators in support, and the filibuster effort will fail.”

“Of course, any one of these senators could pull a Cory Booker and suddenly forget all past statements on a given issue or nominee and completely reverse himself in an effort to win over the support of the Democratic party’s furious grassroots.”

Few Recall Gorsuch’s Volunteer Work at Harvard

Wall Street Journal: “When President Donald Trump introduced his Supreme Court pick on live television last week, he said Neil Gorsuch had ‘demonstrated a commitment to helping the less fortunate’ by working in the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Harvard Defenders. His affiliation with these volunteer programs — which offer law school students real-life legal experience representing prison inmates and the poor — helped give Mr. Gorsuch’s deeply conservative résumé a personal touch, and the groups were highlighted in news reports about his nomination.”

“But roughly three dozen students who participated in the two programs while Mr. Gorsuch was at Harvard Law School from 1988 to 1991 said they have no recollection of his involvement.”

Trump Attack on Judge Raises Stakes for Gorsuch

“President Trump’s Twitter assault on the ‘so-called judge‘ who put a nationwide hold on the president’s executive order on immigration has motivated Democrats to challenge Trump’s choice for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, on an important but elusive issue,” the Washington Post reports.

“Is Gorsuch independent enough, they ask, to stand up to the president who picked him?”

“As the legal battle over Trump’s immigration directive shows, Gorsuch’s nomination lands at a time when the Supreme Court is likely to be called upon to review what Trump already has shown to be a broad reliance on executive power.”

Justices Rarely Surprise Those Who Appoint Them

Jeffrey Toobin: “President Trump wanted a strong conservative voice, and he’ll get one with Gorsuch… There is a pervasive mythology that justices of the Supreme Court turn out to surprise the Presidents who appointed them. This myth dates to the Eisenhower administration, when the President was indeed surprised by how liberal Earl Warren and William Brennan turned out to be. But in recent decades, presidents have gotten what they wanted with their Supreme Court appointments… Kennedy (appointed by Ronald Reagan) and David Souter (George H.W. Bush) are only modestly different from what they appeared to be.”

Obama Really Blew It with the Garland Nomination

James Hohmann: “Engaging with the hypotheticals of counterfactual history is always fraught, but based on hundreds of conversations with voters across the country before and since the election, I believe it is possible that Trump would have lost had McConnell not kept Scalia’s seat open. The election was very narrowly decided, and many conservatives who live in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Philadelphia and Detroit found Trump odious but rationalized voting for him because of the court.”

“With the benefit of hindsight, we can now say more firmly that Barack Obama blew it by picking Merrick Garland last year. The former president naively tried to make Republicans an offer they couldn’t refuse by picking a milquetoast, pro-business, moderate, middle-aged white guy who he thought they’d accept, rather than risk Hillary Clinton choosing someone far more progressive. Clinton, to her detriment, was always cagey and evasive about whether or not she’d re-nominate Garland. That helped Republicans defang the issue.”

“While Obama was playing checkers, McConnell was playing chess. Liberal groups couldn’t get their followers ginned up for someone as bland as Garland. Conservative groups – which tend to be more strategic and better financed than their counterparts – mobilized more effectively. In stark contrast to the Republican convention, where SCOTUS was a buzzword, no Democrat mentioned Garland during the Democratic National Convention.”

How Trump Kept His Supreme Court Pick Secret

Washington Post: “After receiving the president’s call, Gorsuch and his wife traveled to a neighbor’s house in Boulder, Colo. They were met by a team of lawyers from the White House Counsel’s Office, who briefed the judge on the announcement plans for Tuesday and helped him prepare for the frenzy that would come.”

“The White House aides ferried Gorsuch down a quiet farm road to the airport, where they boarded a military jet for the flight to Joint Base Andrews, just outside of Washington… The judge and his wife stayed in Washington on Monday night at a private residence before visiting the White House on Tuesday, prior to the announcement.”

Should the Democrats Filibuster Gorsuch?

Rick Hasen: “My prediction is that they will not.  Democrats seem to have a harder time with obstructionism than Republicans, and when you have prominent Democratic lawyers like Neal Katyal voicing support for Gorsuch, enough Democrats won’t have the stomach to filibuster, especially knowing it will end with Gorsuch on the Court anyway. Further, some Democrats may be hoping that by not filibustering they can keep channels open with those Senate Republicans who are willing to deal on other issues, whether or not this is actually true. If Senate Democrats are going to grow a spine, it probably won’t be this fight.”

Jonathan Chait: “Democrats are reportedly tempted to abandon the filibuster, so that it remains in place for a future Court fight… But this is fantastical. There is no ‘leverage’ gained by a weapon one’s opponent can disarm at will. The Supreme Court filibuster is like a pair of handcuffs in which the handcuffed person is holding a key.”

The Case for Blocking Gorsuch

Jason Sattler: “This is an appointment by the biggest popular vote loser of the modern era to fill a stolen seat. Pretending this is just Senate business as usual would pat the GOP on the head for pulling off the heist of the century, and it would give Trump a thumbs up for his first-week ‘shock and awe’ campaign of executive orders designed to roll back immigration, the Affordable Care Act and voting fraud.”

“It would also show that the elected left has learned nothing in the last eight years.”

“Barack Obama was the first candidate since Dwight D. Eisenhower to win 51% of the popular vote twice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s cynical decision to deny Obama the right to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat was mustache-twirlingly brilliant.”

Kevin Drum: “Lots of Democrats want to take a scorched-earth approach toward the confirmation of Gorsuch … I’m totally on board with this. The Republican blockade of Garland was flat-out theft, and no party with any self-respect can let that go without a fight.”

Trump Picks Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to be a Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

New York Times: “If confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would restore the 5-to-4 split between liberals and conservatives on the court, handing Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, 80, who votes with both blocs, the swing vote.”

Politico: “Gorsuch is a favorite of legal conservatives because he has sharply questioned a three-decade old legal precedent that many on the right believe has given too much power to the regulatory state.”

Ayotte Will Guide SCOTUS Pick Through Senate

“The White House has assembled a team of political veterans with deep experience navigating the Senate to help shepherd President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court,” the Washington Post reports.

“Leading the effort will be former senator Kelly Ayotte, a relatively moderate Republican from New Hampshire… Ayotte will serve as the nominee’s so-called sherpa, personally introducing the pick to senators and escorting him or her to meetings and the confirmation hearing. Ayotte, who narrowly lost reelection last fall, is an unlikely selection by Trump considering she spoke out against his candidacy and was seen as having been on a blacklist for appointments to the new administration.”