Biiiiig Mistake!

Published: March 24, 2017

By Jim Lichtman
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Don’t do it!

That’s my advice to Senate Democrats who seem to be ready, willing and very able to filibuster a confirmation vote on Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch.


“While a parade of witnesses spoke in the committee room,” The New York Times writes (Mar. 23), “[Senate Minority Leader Chuck] Schumer went to the Senate floor and announced that he and other Democrats would refuse to permit an up-or-down vote…” on Gorsuch.

“My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same,” Schumer said.

“During the four days of hearings,” The Times continues, “even Judge Gorsuch’s critics did not dispute his credentials. On Thursday, representatives of the American Bar Association told the committee that it had unanimously found Judge Gorsuch to be ‘well qualified,’ the group’s highest rating.”

“In his floor speech,” The Washington Post writes (Mar.23), “Schumer hit all the talking points: His repudiation of the president’s remarks about judges was not robust enough; he didn’t convince Schumer that ‘he would be a neutral judge, free of ideology and bias’; and he would not tell senators how he’d vote on various issues. The standard Schumer laid out, however, would have prevented the confirmation of Justices Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. (‘Let me repeat: There is no legal standard, rule or even logic for failing to answer questions that don’t involve immediate and specific cases that are or could come before the court. It is evasion, just evasion, plain and simple.’)”

Sorry, Chuck, you’re just plain wrong on this one.

We all know why Schumer and most Senate Democrats are taking this clearly partisan position: it’s payback for Mitch McConnell who refused to even permit a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee last year, a move by Senate Republicans that was shamelessly partisan in the extreme.

However the simple fact is, Gorsuch is no right-wing extremist. Norman Eisen, Obama’s ethics czar, went to school with Gorsuch and speaks highly of his qualifications. Eisen, Obama and Gorsuch were all part of the same Harvard class.

Eisen’s grounds for supporting Gorsuch, however, go beyond simple friendship, they’re well-reasoned, as reported in an interview with Axios (Jan. 31):

  • “He was known as a conservative back then, but he wasn’t viewed as one of the ‘strident conservatives’ in the law class.
  • “Eisen praised his decency and willingness to entertain others’ opinions.
  • “ ‘He’s not a shouter, but he penetrates to the heart of the matter…even if you don’t agree with him he makes you think.’
  • “Eisen has closely followed Gorsuch’s opinions through his legal career. Though he disagrees with Gorsuch politically, he praises his written opinions as ‘careful’ and ‘literate.’ ”

A letter in support of Judge Gorsuch by leading Law professors says it all:

“Although we may not agree with each decision or vote he will cast, we all agree that Judge Gorsuch is eminently qualified to serve on the Court and that his jurisprudence is within the mainstream of contemporary legal thought. Taken together, these traits should ensure his confirmation. …

“Judge Gorsuch is widely known for his fairness and integrity, his analytical rigor, and his persuasive writing. As scholars of the law, we can attest that the law is full of gaps and ambiguities that can bedevil the most careful thinkers. But Judge Gorsuch has handled this complexity with great skill, and his opinions stand out for their learned quality. In writing them, he routinely draws on law review articles and other scholarship, and he manifests a deep and nuanced understanding of the doctrines he applies. His wide-ranging intellect is equally on display in his extra-judicial publications and speeches, which include an academic book that grew out of his doctoral research and contributions to an important new treatise on the law of judicial precedent.”

Message to Schumer and Senate Democrats: a filibuster on Gorsuch is not leadership and will only confirm the obstructionist merry-go-round that voters complain about. You are not selling out your party by voting for a man who is clearly qualified. And you do a disservice to a Supreme Court that functions best with 9 justices.

Suck-it-up Chuck and do the right thing!


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