Judiciary

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.”

Udall Floats Plan to Confirm Gorsuch and Garland

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) has an idea that could place both Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Merrick Garland on the Supreme Court at the same time, CNN reports.

“His proposal is for Trump to meet privately with Supreme Court justices who are interested in retirement. If one of those justices decided they would be willing to retire, and if Trump promises to nominate Garland, President Barack Obama’s unconfirmed former SCOTUS pick, in their place, then the retiring justice would submit a letter of resignation contingent on that promise. Then, both Garland and Gorsuch would be voted on simultaneously.”

We No Longer Have 3 Branches of Government

Mickey Edwards: “Instead of three equal, independent branches, each a check on the others, today’s federal government is, for practical purposes, made up of either two branches or one, depending on how you do the math. The modern presidency has become a giant centrifuge, sucking power from both Congress and the states, making de facto law through regulation and executive order. Yet the growing power of the executive is not merely a case of presidential power lust. For decades, the Supreme Court has consistently held that on most policy questions, foreign as well as domestic, statute trumps fiat. But if Congress subordinates its constitutional duties to political concerns, what then?”

“Presidents have managed to accumulate such a prominent place at the top of what is now increasingly a pyramid rather than a horizontal structure of three connected blocks because for more than a generation, Congress has willingly abandoned both its constitutional responsibilities and its ability to effectively serve as a check on the executive even when it wishes to do so.”

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.”