Democrat Senator spoke non-stop for 15 hours in chamber to block Trump's Supreme Court nomination

Mythili Sampathkumar

A Senator has spoken continuously for over 15 hours in protest to Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.

Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon took to the Senate floor overnight in opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

The New York Times called it “Congressional masochism,” though it was not a formal filibuster. He was not delaying a vote at the time.

Mr Merkley stood the entire time, using visual aids periodically. He spoke of former President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland, who was denied a hearing by Republicans in the Senate in 2016, citing the election made Mr Obama a “lame duck” president.

“For the first time in U.S. history, a seat has been stolen from one president and delivered to another in a court-packing scheme. If that were to succeed, it would set a precedent that will haunt the court for decades to come,“ Merkley warned.

He also said Congress should not approve Mr Gorsuch in the middle of investigations into Mr Trump and his team’s possible ties to Russia as well as Russia’s influence on the 2016 election.

Other objections to Mr Gorsuch include his stance against euthanasia for terminally ill people, his strict interpretation of the US Constitution akin to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and concerns about his view on voting rights laws.

Democrats have announced they have enough support to formally filibuster and Republicans would likely not be able to stop them from doing so.

They could however hold a vote on changing Senate rules to prohibit filibusters against Supreme Court nominees going forward. Former Senator Harry Reid employed a similar technique to stop Republicans from filibustering Mr Obama’s lower court appointees.

Republicans have said that regardless, Mr Gorsuch will be confirmed as the next Supreme Court Justice on 7 April.

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