HARTFORD, CT — U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal is just the latest Senate Democrat to announce his opposition to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Blumenthal announced his opposition at a Friday press conference at the Legislative Office Building in Hartford.
“Instead of being forthcoming, he avoided my questions at every turn,” Blumenthal said. “We’re left with the conclusion that he passed the Trump litmus test and that he is in effect an acolyte of those hard right interest groups that screened and suggested his name.”
After four days of hearings, Blumenthal said there is still doubt that Gorsuch would be committed to those “core beliefs and principles that are at the heart of our constitutional system — rights of privacy, worker safety, consumer protection, women’s health care.”
With 52 Republicans in the Senate, the GOP is eight Democrats short of the 60 votes they need on a procedural vote ahead of Gorsuch’s nomination, and a filibuster seems inevitable at this point. If they reach the 60-vote threshold to end debate on whether to vote on Gorsuch’s nomination, Gorsuch could then be confirmed by a simple majority.
Blumenthal said he would do everything possible to block Gorsuch’s nomination “including use of the filibuster.”
Blumenthal said any Supreme Court nominee should be approved by more than a razor thin majority, “he should have an overwhelming bipartisan consensus in his favor.”
Blumenthal suggested that instead of changing the Senate rules to allow for a simple majority for a procedural vote, “they should change the nominee.”
He said if Republicans decide to reduce the number of votes necessary for cloture, that will “change the Senate in fundamental ways.” He said this issue is too important.
“Each seat on the Supreme Court is potentially a swing vote on core constitutional principles,” Blumenthal said. “And I have to vote my conscience and stand for what I believe in.”
If Republicans decide not to change the Senate rules, there’s a possibility Gorsuch’s nomination will fail. But this would not be the first time the Senate opted not to approve a Supreme Court nominee.
Two of President Richard Nixon’s Supreme Court nominees (Clement Haynsworth, Jr. and G. Harrold Carswell) and one of President Ronald Reagan’s nominees (Robert Bork) were rejected, according to records kept by the U.S. Senate.
Another one of Reagan’s nominees withdrew his name after admitting he smoked marijuana with his students while he was a professor at Harvard Law School. One of President George W. Bush’s nominees withdrew her name from consideration.
Then in 2016, the Republican-controlled Senate refused to take up the nomination of Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s nominee.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, Connecticut’s junior senator, also said he would vote against Gorsuch’s nomination.
“He admirably claims to rest his decision on the law rather than on political views, his consistent support for the powerful over the powerless does not seem coincidental,” Murphy said of Gorsuch.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote on Gorsuch’s nomination Monday, which means the U.S. Senate could vote on his nomination as soon as next week.