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Dem Disarray Divides Their SCOTUS Response

- February 1, 2017

The Democrat Far-Left Remains Unsatisfied With Its Party's Response To President Trump's Supreme Court Announcement


TOP TAKEAWAYS

  • Republicans let the American People be heard and voters went to the polls in November knowing the next president of the United States would fill the vacancy.
  • Democrats are in disarray and divided over how to respond to President Trump's announcement of Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee.
  • The far-left is disappointed in its leadership ranks for not taking an aggressive hardline against Gorsuch, with far-left Senators Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Ron Wyden (D-OR) vowing to block Trump's SCOTUS nomination unless it was Merrick Garland.
  • But other Senate Democrats, particularly those up for re-election in 2018, have called these filibuster threats "wrong" and are pushing for President Trump's nominee to receive a fair hearing and an up-and-down vote.
  • Several of the Democrats who are now criticizing Gorsuch, including Senators Chuck Schumer, Patrick Leahy, and Ron Wyden all had no objections to Gorsuch when he was unanimously confirmed in 2006.

DEMOCRATS' INTERNAL STRUGGLES ARE COMING TO A HEAD AND THREATEN TO SPLIT THE PARTY

The Far-Left Wing Of The Democrat Party Demanded Its Leadership Take "Hardball Tactics" Before Trump Even Announced His Nominee. " Some Democrats want to reprise those same hardball tactics. But Schumer and his allies are trying to convince all the factions in his party to move deliberately, and wait to mount any full-scale opposition until after a pick has been named and they've had a chance to dig into nominee's record." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

  • The Issue Is Creating A "Headache" For Democrat Leadership. "The exchange is emblematic of the headache that Democrats now face." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)
  • The Struggle Is Splitting The Democrat Party In Two. "The Democratic Party is splintering over its strategy for handling President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, with liberals upset that Senate Democrats aren't taking a harder line and moderates fretting about appearing too obstructive." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

So Far, The Left Has Been Disappointed By Democratic Leadership And Will Not Be "Satisfied" Until A "Hardline Stance" Is Taken. "Privately, in meetings with Schumer's staff and Senate Judiciary Committee ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), liberal groups are pressing for a far more aggressive response, said two sources familiar with those conversations. The Democratic staffers have told outside groups that they are not committed to using the filibuster to block a nominee in principle, and instead will make a more measured argument against Trump's nominee's views and ideology. Officials from those groups, who requested anonymity to discuss the party's internal conflict, are not satisfied with anything other than a hardline stance against Trump's nominee." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

  • The Center For American Progress' Neera Tanden Called On Senate Democrats To Block The Nominee Unless Until There Is A "Super Majority Of Upwards Of 66 Senators." "And in a letter to Senate Democrats in Tuesday, Center for American Progress President Neera Tanden argued that because Trump did not win the popular vote he should be held to an even higher threshold than 60 votes. 'The Senate should refuse to act on any Supreme Court that does not have the broad bipartisan support of a super majority of upwards of 66 senators,' she wrote." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

SEVERAL FAR-LEFT SENATORS REJECTED PRESIDENT TRUMP'S NOMINEE BEFORE HE WAS EVEN NAMED

Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) Has Vowed To Filibuster President Trump's Nominee. "On Monday, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) announced his plans to mount a filibuster against any Trump nominee, vowing to use the Senate's tools to extract revenge for Garland's treatment. Later in the day, Schumer buttonholed Merkley to chide him on his comments, according to multiple sources familiar of the matter." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) Said He Would Only Back The Nomination Of Merrick Garland. "'Mitch McConnell stole a Supreme Court seat from the United States of America,' said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), a progressive himself who's up for reelection in 2018. 'If Trump wanted to bring the country together … he would nominate Merrick Garland and say he's middle of the road.'" (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

TALK OF A FILIBUSTER LED SOME DEMOCRAT SENATORS TO REPUDIATE THEIR FAR-LEFT COUNTERPARTS AND CALL FOR A FAIR HEARING AND VOTE

Some Democrats "Privately" Agree That The Best Strategy Is To Push For A Hearing And A Vote. "Other Democrats privately agreed with that sentiment." (Manu Raju, "Democrats Consider Backing Off Big Battle Over Trump's Supreme Court Pick," CNN , 1/30/17)

Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) Said His Democratic Colleagues In The Senate Were "Wrong" To Reject The Nominee Before It Is Announced. "West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday that fellow Democrats are 'wrong' to oppose President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee before the pick has been made." (Scott Bland, "Manchin Says Dems 'Wrong' To Preemptively Oppose Trump's Court Pick," Politico , 1/31/17)

  • Manchin: "I'm Not Going To Filibuster Anybody." "West Virginia senator Joe Manchin said he won't block President Donald Trump's choice to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, who is scheduled to be announced Tuesday evening. 'I'm not going to filibuster anybody,' Manchin told The Weekly Standard as he was heading into a luncheon Tuesday surrounded by reporters." (Chris Deaton, "Manchin Won't 'Filibuster Anybody' In SCOTUS Nomination," The Weekly Standard , 1/31/17)

Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) Tweeted "We Should Have A Full Confirmation Hearing Process And A Vote On Any Nominee For The Supreme Court." (Claire McCaskill, Twitter Feed , 1/31/17)

(Claire McCaskill, Twitter Feed , 1/31/17)

Senator Jon Tester (D-MT) Said That The Senate Should "Have A Hearing And Vote" On President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee. "'In the end, I don't think we should play their game. Have a hearing and vote,' said Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), an endangered Democratic incumbent." (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) Called For President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee To "Get A Full Hearing" And That They "Absolutely" Receive An Up-Or-Down Vote. "Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota said that Trump's nominee 'should get a full hearing.' Asked if the nominee should also get a straight up-or-down vote rather than be blocked by a filibuster, she replied: 'Absolutely.'" (Burgess Everett and John Bresnahan, "Dems Struggle Over SCOTUS Opposition Strategy," Politico , 1/31/17)

Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) Says He "Will Push For A Hearing" And "A Vote" For President Trump's Supreme Court Nominee. "'But I'm not going to do to President Trump's nominee what the Republicans in the Senate did to President Obama's,' Coons said. 'I will push for a hearing and I will push for a vote." (Manu Raju, "Democrats Consider Backing Off Big Battle Over Trump's Supreme Court Pick," CNN , 1/30/17)

NOW THAT A NOMINEE HAS BEEN ANNOUNCED, EVEN MORE DEMOCRATS ARE STARTING TO BACK AWAY

Once Democrats Saw What A Qualified Judge Trump Had Picked, Many Began Distancing Themselves From Extremist Tactics

Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN): "Part Of Our Job As Senators Includes…Voting On Judicial Nominations, Including To The Supreme Court." "Donnelly said, 'As I have said part of our job as Senators includes considering, debating, and voting on judicial nominations, including to the Supreme Court. I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Neil Gorsuch.'" (Press Release, "Donnelly Statement On Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch," Sen. Joe Donnelly , 2/1/17)

Senator Tom Udall: "I'll Review [Judge Gorsuch's] Record Before Deciding My Vote." "I'll review #Gorsuch's record before deciding my vote-but believe we'd be better off with a more mainstream justice in Scalia's seat #SCOTUS." (Tom Udall, Twitter Feed , 1/31/17)

Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) Said She Wanted To "Conduct A Thorough Review" Of Gorsuch's Record Before Making A Decision. "Judge Gorsuch has a long record and it will take time to conduct a thorough review." (Press Release, "Feinstein On Supreme Court Nominee," Sen. Dianne Feinstein , 1/31/17)

Senator Tim Kaine (D-VA) Suggested He Wanted A Confirmation Hearing For Gorsuch. "In considering Judge Gorsuch's nomination and observing his confirmation hearing, I intend to carefully scrutinize his temperament and record, particularly on civil rights and other Constitutional guarantees." (Press Release, "Kaine Statement On Nomination Of Judge Neil Gorsuch To Serve On The Supreme Court," Sen. Tim Kaine , 1/31/17)

Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT): "I Will Support Having A Hearing And A Vote." SEN. RICHARD BLUMENTHAL (D-CT): "I will support having a hearing and a vote because I think the President's nominee deserves that consideration. And I will consider it with very close scrutiny because this decision will probably be one of the most serious and significant that I will make as a United States senator." (MSNBC's "Live," 1/31/17)

Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) Said He Would "Carefully And Closely Review Judge Gorsuch's" Record And "Meet With Him Personally." "I plan to carefully and closely review Judge Gorsuch's entire legal career and judicial record, meet with him personally and determine if his interpretation of our Constitution is representative of long-standing American values." (Press Release, "Menendez Statement On Supreme Court Nomination, Sen. Bob Menendez , 1/31/17)

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) Said He Wanted A "Full Examination" Of Gorsuch's Record Before He Would Make A Decision About His Nomination. "The confirmation of a Supreme Court justice is an awesome responsibility that I gladly accept. I will base my decision on a full examination of Judge Gorsuch's judicial record and his responses to senators' questions." (Press Release, "Sen. Nelson's Comments On Trump's Supreme Court Nomination," Sen. Bill Nelson , 1/31/17)

Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin (D-IL) Said That He Would "Support A Hearing" For Judge Gorsuch's Nomination To The Supreme Court. "I will meet with Judge Gorsuch and support a hearing and a vote for him - both of which were denied to an eminently qualified nominee presented by President Obama." ("Dick Durbin Issues Statement On Trump's Supreme Court Nominee," Belleville [Illinois] News-Democrat , 1/31/17)

Senator Bob Casey (D-PA) Suggested He Wanted A Hearing, Saying He Would "Thoroughly Review Judge Gorsuch's Record…And His Answers To Questions During The Hearing And Those Submitted In Writing Afterward." "I will thoroughly review Judge Gorsuch's record, particularly his appellate decisions and his answers to questions during the hearing and those submitted in writing afterward." ("Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch For Supreme Court," Fox 43 , 1/31/17)

Senator Maggie Hassan Suggested She Wanted A Hearing So She Could "Thoroughly Review Judge Gorsuch's Record." "I will thoroughly review Judge Gorsuch's record throughout the hearing process so that I - and the American people - can determine whether he would protect the civil rights of all Americans and how he would evaluate the constitutionality of executive orders like President Trump's un-American immigration ban." (Press Release, "Senator Hassan Statement On President Trump's Nomination Of Judge Gorsuch To The Supreme Court," Sen. Maggie Hassan , 1/31/17)

FLASHBACK: MANY OF THE DEMOCRATS NOW CRITICIZING JUDGE GORSUCH WERE IN THE SENATE IN 2006 WHEN HE WAS UNANIMOUSLY CONFIRMED, AND HAD NOTHING NEGATIVE TO SAY THEN

In 2006, Not A Single Senate Democrat Objected To Gorsuch's Confirmation Or Demanded A Recorded Vote. ( The Congressional Record , 7/20/06, S8036)

But On Tuesday, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) Said He Had "Serious Doubts" About Gorsuch. "SCOTUS justice must stand up to a Pres willing to bend the Constitution. Serious doubts on Judge Gorsuch's ability to meet this standard." (Chuck Schumer, Twitter Feed , 1/31/17)

  • Schumer Was A Member Of The Senate Judiciary Committee In 2006 When Judge Gorsuch Was Voice Voted Out Of The Committee And The Senate. ("Senators Of The 109th Congress," U.S. Senate , Accessed 7/27/06; PN1565, Gorsuch Nomination , Approved By Voice Vote, 7/20/06; Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate , Hearing, 6/21/06)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT): "The American People Are Justified To Wonder Whether Judge Gorsuch Can Truly Be An Independent Justice." "From my initial review of his record, I question whether Judge Gorsuch meets the high standard set by Merrick Garland. And with the ideological litmus test that President Trump has applied in making this selection, the American people are justified to wonder whether Judge Gorsuch can truly be an independent justice." (Press Release, "Statement On The Nomination Of Judge Neil Gorsuch To The Supreme Court Of The United States," Sen. Patrick Leahy , 1/31/17)

  • Leahy Was The Ranking Member Of The Senate Judiciary Committee In 2006 When Judge Gorsuch Was Unanimously Confirmed. ("Senators Of The 109th Congress," U.S. Senate , Accessed 7/27/06; PN1565, Gorsuch Nomination , Approved By Voice Vote, 7/20/06; Committee On The Judiciary, U.S. Senate , Hearing, 6/21/06)
  • Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT), While Gorsuch's Nomination Was Being Considered By The Senate, Had Nothing Negative To Say About Gorsuch Or His Nomination. SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): "Neil Gorsuch has been nominated to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. I know that Senator Salazar is pleased that we were able to move his nomination quickly as well." (Senator Patrick Leahy, The Congressional Record , 7/20/06, S8033)
  • Leahy Said He Was "Pleased" That Senate Republican Leadership Had "Scheduled Debate And Consideration" Of A Set Of Nominations Including Gorsuch's. SENATOR PATRICK LEAHY (D-VT): "I am pleased that the Republican leadership has scheduled debate and consideration of these nominations and am glad that the Republican leadership is taking notice of the fact that we can cooperate on swift consideration and confirmation of nominations." (Senator Patrick Leahy, The Congressional Record , 7/20/06, S8033-S8034)

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), On Tuesday Night: "No Senator" Should Support Gorsuch's Nomination "No senator who believes individual rights are reserved to the people, not the government, can support Gorsuch's nomination." (Sen. Ron Wyden, Twitter Feed, 1/31/17)

  • Wyden Was A Senator In 2006 When Judge Gorsuch Was Unanimously Confirmed. ("Senators Of The 109th Congress," U.S. Senate , Accessed 7/27/06; PN1565, Gorsuch Nomination , Approved By Voice Vote, 7/20/06)
  • Mediaite's Alex Griswold: "Reminder: Gorsuch Was Unanimously Voted To The 10th Circuit. Wyden Was In The Senate At The Time." (Alex Griswold, Twitter Feed , 1/31/17)

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) Said He Was "Concerned" About Gorsuch's Nomination. "I am concerned that #Gorsuch has a tendency to favor the interests of big corporations & special interests over every day Americans." (Jack Reed, Twitter Feed , 1/31/17)

  • Reed Was A Senator In 2006 When Judge Gorsuch Was Unanimously Confirmed. ("Senators Of The 109th Congress," U.S. Senate , Accessed 7/27/06; PN1565, Gorsuch Nomination , Approved By Voice Vote, 7/20/06)

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) Said She Had "Great Concerns" About Gorsuch. "Michigan Democratic Sen. Debbie Stabenow said Tuesday night she had 'great concerns' about President Donald Trump's nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch as a justice of the Supreme Court. 'This is the place where people need to come together, you need to have a mainstream pick,' she told MSNBC's 'All In With Chris Hayes.' 'This is about somebody who will uphold the Constitution and not be ideologically extreme one way or the other…' 'I have great concerns about this nominee,' she added. 'I'll listen, I'll meet with him. The cases I've seen that he has ruled on I'm very concerned about.'"

  • Stabenow Was A Senator In 2006 When Judge Gorsuch Was Unanimously Confirmed. ("Senators Of The 109th Congress," U.S. Senate , Accessed 7/27/06; PN1565, Gorsuch Nomination , Approved By Voice Vote, 7/20/06)

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