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Two more Republicans announced their support on Wednesday for the Supreme Court majority-vote “constitutional option,” following the news that additional Democratic senators have promised to filibuster Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.
Democrats slam the constitutional option as the so-called “nuclear option,” because it would end their ability to filibuster by changing Senate rules to allow a simple majority of fifty-one votes to force a floor vote. Under current rules, approval from 60 Senators — meaning all 52 Republicans plus eight Democrats — is needed to hold a vote.
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On Wednesday, Sen. Corey Gardner (R-CO) and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) said they are prepared to vote for the constitutional option.
“Neil Gorsuch will be an associate justice on the United States Supreme Court,” Gardner told the Denver Post. “It’s just a matter of how it happens.”
Toomey told the Philadelphia Daily News, “If that [confirming Gorsuch] means we have to change the Senate rules, it will be a very sad day for the Senate, but if that’s what it takes, that’s what it takes.”
Gorsuch, who has been nominated by President Donald Trump to replace iconic conservative jurist Justice Antonin Scalia, has received praise from across the political spectrum in the past. But Senate Democrats and left-wing activist groups are now criticizing his record as they try to block his nomination.
On Wednesday, Senators Tim Kaine (D-VA) and Martin Heinrich (D-NM) both announced they would join Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s promised filibuster to block Gorsuch from receiving a vote on the Senate Floor. At least twenty Democratic senators have suggested they will support a Democratic filibuster.
Heinrich argued that the Senate cannot confirm Judge Gorsuch until the Senate has completed its open-ended investigations into the Trump campaign’s alleged ties with Russia. “It would not be responsible to move forward with President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee until these Russia-related allegations are resolved,” he told the New Mexico Political Report. Kaine, meanwhile, was sparser on the explanation of his opposition to Gorsuch,
Kaine simply made a political argument, telling the Associated Press that the judge’s rulings “do not demonstrate a philosophy that belongs on the Supreme Court.”
The Human Rights Campaign issued a press release calling for “pro-equality” senators to filibuster Gorsuch because he once referred to homosexual marriage as “part of the liberal social agenda” and also joined in a decision denying female hormones to an imprisoned man.
Across the aisle, a parallel group of Republican senators has resigned themselves to using the so-called “nuclear option,” changing Senate rules to allow a simple majority of fifty-one votes to invoke cloture and force a floor vote as opposed to the sixty now required. Two more prominent Senate GOPers said they are prepared to take this step Wednesday: Sen. Corey Gardner (R-CO), from whose state Gorsuch hails, and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA).
The Senate is currently scheduled to vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation, April 7.