It's nearly certain President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, will eventually be confirmed. But some Democratic senators plan Thursday to do their best to stop that from becoming reality.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, said he and other Democrats planned to filibuster the nomination, which could scramble the confirmation process. It takes 60 votes to clear a procedural hurdle that would allow for Gorsuch's confirmation and Republicans hold just 52 seats. The GOP could just change the rules to a simple majority vote for the confirmation. That's the so-called "nuclear option." Schumer railed against that idea, but GOP lawmakers have hinted they are more than willing to use it.
"If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes—a bar met by each of President [Barack] Obama's nominees, and George Bush's last two nominees—the answer isn't to change the rules. It's to change the nominee," he said, according to the Washington Post.
Speaking on the Senate floor, Schumer urged his Democratic colleagues to join him, stressing that he did not feel Gorsuch could prove an independent check on executive over-reach from Trump.
While Schumer & Co. can hold up Gorsuch's confirmation, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he wants Trump's nominee confirmed before the Senate heads out for its Easter recess, scheduled to start April 6.
Democrats remain upset that Judge Merrick Garland—nominated by Obama to take over the seat vacated by the late Antonin Scalia—was not even given a hearing by the Republicans last year.
But it remains unlikely Democrats will be able to keep Gorsuch from the Supreme Court bench, since the GOP seems united on the judge and has the nuclear option in its back pocket.
"It would be shocking if Neil Gorsuch wasn't confirmed to the Supreme Court in the coming weeks," Tom Goldstein, publisher of the ScotusBlog website, told NBC News ahead of the first day of Gorsuch's hearings. "The Democrats are committed to opposing him. Their base is insisting on it, because of what happened to President Obama's nominee. But the reality is, they just don't have the votes and don't have the goods."
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