President Donald Trump’s nominee for an open seat on the Supreme Court will go before the U.S. Senate for confirmation within the week. Today, both of Maryland’s senators pledged they will not vote to let him in.
Democratic Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen issued lengthy statements today explaining why they plan to try to keep Judge Neil Gorsuch off of the nation’s top court.
Cardin said he is “greatly troubled by Judge Gorsuch’s record,” particularly what he calls “examples of putting corporate interests before working Americans, showing hostility to agency decisions that protect our environment, disregard for women’s health [and] marginalizing students with disabilities,” among other reasons. He said he’s met with Gorsuch, a 49-year-old U.S. Appellate judge who Trump formally nominated for the open spot in early February.
Gorsuch has been criticized by Democrats for ruling in favor of corporations like Goodyear in a gender discrimination case and FBL Financial Services in an age discrimination case during his federal appellate judicial tenure.
“Despite his protestations,” a reference to Gorsuch defending his rulings at a committee hearing last week, “his record points to a jurist who has not separated his political views from his legal views,” Cardin said. “I do not believe that he would serve as an independent check on this president, who has tested the limits of the Constitution and the separation of powers in a way that no other modern president has done.”
Van Hollen, Maryland’s junior senator, said in his statement that Gorsuch “applies a cramped reading of the law and consistently sides with powerful special interests against the rights of individuals, workers, and consumers.” He accused the judge of deflecting tough questions about his reputation for siding with corporate entities over individuals when he was being grilled by his Senate colleagues last week. “When he had an opportunity during the hearings to clarify that bias, he chose instead to evade questions and answered with platitudes, not substance.”
Both senators also mentioned the lingering elephant in the room: That the Republican-controlled Senate refused to vote on President Barack Obama’s nominee, U.S. Appellate Judge Merrick Garland, for roughly nine months of last year, until his nomination expired when Obama left office in January. The president had nominated Garland, considered to be a judicial centrist by most, after the surprise passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.
The U.S. Senate was supposed to take a vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation last week, but Democrats predictably delayed a week. NBC reports they’re lining up to oppose Gorsuch, which is bad news for Republicans, who control 52 seats but need eight Dems to join them in confirming the conservative Supreme Court nominee.
Democrats are apparently planning to filibuster the confirmation hearing, though Republicans could vote to change the rules to prevent that from happening and force a vote next Monday.