Judiciary

McCaskill Won’t Support Gorsuch Nomination

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO) “will vote to filibuster Neil Gorsuch, becoming the 36th Democratic senator to vow to block President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee from confirmation,” Politico reports.

“McCaskill’s announcement Friday pushes the Senate ever-closer to a major confrontation next week over the chamber’s rules. If Democrats can secure five more votes to deny Gorsuch the 60 votes he needs to advance, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is likely to gut the supermajority requirement on Supreme Court nominees using the ‘nuclear option.'”

Trump Looks to Put Mark on Judicial Branch for Decades

Playbook: “The White House Counsel’s office is interviewing lawyers in their late 30s and early 40s for federal judgeships, sources familiar with the matter told us. It is a departure from the Obama administration, which mostly stuck to older, experienced legal professionals for judgeships. Republican presidents historically pick younger lawyers for judgeships compared to Democratic presidents. Placing younger candidates on the bench would ensure Trump’s influence on the federal court system for decades.”

“One veteran Republican lawyer familiar with the White House counsel’s efforts said that more younger people than usual are being considered for these jobs. Some are not ‘seasoned litigators,’ but they are ‘very well qualified.’ Another Republican legal-world source said the interview pool has included conservative law professors and U.S. attorneys in their late 30s. The White House declined to comment.”

Republicans Desperate for Win on Gorsuch

Politico: “McConnell’s attempt to buck up his GOP ranks, relayed by three sources in attendance, underscores the high stakes of the Gorsuch battle as the Senate barrels toward a likely nuclear showdown next week: His confirmation is, to put it mildly, a can’t-lose for Republicans.”

“That was true after Senate Republicans waged a yearlong blockade of Merrick Garland that positioned the GOP to pick someone else now. But the spectacular collapse of the Obamacare repeal effort last week makes Gorsuch all the more urgent for President Donald Trump and reeling Hill Republicans.”

Gorsuch’s Path to 60 Votes Closing Fast

“Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s path to 60 votes is rapidly closing — setting the stage for a nuclear showdown in the Senate as soon as next week,” Politico reports.

“Senior Democratic sources are now increasingly confident that Gorsuch can’t clear a filibuster, saying his ceiling is likely mid- to upper-50s on the key procedural vote. That would mark the first successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee since Abe Fortas for chief justice in the 1960s.”

Democrats Will Filibuster Gorsuch

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-NY) announced he would oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court “and join other Democrats in filibustering the nomination, making it likely that the judge will struggle to find the support needed to clear a 60-vote procedural hurdle,” the Washington Post reports.

Schumer said Gorsuch “was unable to sufficiently convince me that he’d be an independent check” on President Trump and is “not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology.”

Democrats Mull Deal to Let Gorsuch Through

Politico: “A group of Senate Democrats is beginning to explore trying to extract concessions from Republicans in return for allowing Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to be confirmed… The lawmakers worry that Gorsuch could be confirmed whether Democrats try to block him or not — and Democrats will be left with nothing to show for it. That would be a bitter pill after the GOP blocked Merrick Garland for nearly a year.”

“The deal Democrats would be most likely to pursue, the sources said, would be to allow confirmation of Gorsuch in exchange for a commitment from Republicans not to kill the filibuster for a subsequent vacancy during President Donald Trump’s term.”

Rick Hasen: “Triggering a fight over the filibuster will gain attention, but Democrats can only do it once. The Gorsuch nomination restores the balance of power on the Court to the position it was in before Justice Scalia’s death.”

Smooth Sailing for Gorsuch So Far

Rick Klein and Shushannah Walshe: “Amid the political insanity, the Supreme Court confirmation hearings have been taking place in a bubble, in a time warp to a recent past of serious questioning sprinkled with predictable political sparring. It’s been a refreshing return to Washington normalcy; even tired talking points, traded between the parties as they are, can sound somehow comforting. It may stand as a credit to the Senate Judiciary Committee that it can operate as if nothing outside the hearing room has changed.”

“It also stands to benefit the nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, who has come across as earnest, human and humorous through his first two days in front of the committee. Gorsuch has looked slightly testy under questioning by Democrats, but he remains on a glide path to confirmation. The only reminders that he’s being considered for confirmation in Trump’s Washington have come when the president himself comes up; Trump’s interest in what it would have taken him to win Colorado is about as Trump a question for a Supreme Court nominee that one can imagine.”

Will Democrats Filibuster Gorsuch?

NBC News: “As Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch enters his second day of confirmation hearings in the Senate, his fate is dependent upon the support of Democratic senators who are embroiled in partisan fighting over the politics of the high court and a controversial president. Democrats’ concerns could lead to an explosive fight on the Senate floor that would hold up his nomination and potentially force Republicans to enact the so-called ‘nuclear option,’ a procedural move that would blow up Senate rules to pass President Donald Trump’s nominee.”

“Operating in a hyper-partisan era with an unpopular new president, Gorsuch’s judicial leanings will be one area of focus for Democrats, but hard feelings felt by Democrats over Republicans blocking the last Supreme Court nominee and Gorsuch’s independence from President Donald Trump are other areas of concern. For now, it appears Republicans have the votes to get their nominee confirmed but it remains to be seen just how far they will need to go to get there.”

Democrats Focus on Garland at Gorsuch Hearing

“The Supreme Court confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch is underway, but based on the statements of Democrats, one might think it was about the man who might have been: Judge Merrick Garland,” the New York Times reports.

“Democrats were always expected to highlight Republicans’ refusal to even meet with President Barack Obama’s nominee last year. But the frequency and ferocity of their attacks were notable out of the gate.”

Democrats Face Two Tough Paths on Gorsuch

“When it comes to the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, Senate Democrats appear to have two options: Get out of the way or get run over,” the New York Times reports.

“Senate Republicans’ enthusiastic backing of President Trump’s nominee ensures majority support even before the confirmation hearing begins Monday. But the Republicans also hope that enough Democrats are won over by Judge Gorsuch — or recognize the inevitability of his confirmation — that they join in efforts to head off an explosive showdown over a filibuster.”

“Should Democrats ultimately deny the judge the necessary backing to clear the way for an up-or-down vote, Republicans seem more than ready to take the potentially volatile procedural steps to eliminate the 60-vote threshold on high court picks and summarily install him over Democratic objections. In either case, Judge Gorsuch winds up on the Supreme Court, filling the vacancy created by Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016.”

Democrats Paralyzed Over Gorsuch

“Democrats can’t seem to land a punch on Neil Gorsuch — and it’s not even clear they want to,” Politico reports.

“President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee has breezed through more than 70 meetings with senators. Opponents who’ve scoured his record have found little to latch onto. And some Democrats are privately beginning to believe that Gorsuch — barring a blunder at his Senate confirmation hearings next week — will clinch the 60 votes he needs to be approved without a filibuster.”