First Two Senate Democrats Back Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey said Friday he would support changing the Senate's rules to bypass Democratic opposition and confirm President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee and believes the Republican majority has the votes necessary to do it.

Sen. Tom Carper has joined a group of 30 Democratic senators who are opposing Neil Gorsuch's nomination until Republicans give President Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a full consideration. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota became the first two Democrats to announce their support for Gorsuch, and the only ones so far. If the filibuster is successful, Republican leaders are expected to change Senate rules to confirm Gorsuch and make it easier to confirm justices in the future. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that Gorsuch will be confirmed one way or the other, a veiled threat that Republicans would unilaterally change Senate rules if Democrats mount a filibuster.

Some Democrats have said Republicans "stole" a Supreme Court seat previous year when the Senate refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee to replace Scalia, appellate judge Merrick Garland. You've got to have Democrats who agree not to support Judge Gorsuch, but simply to end the filibuster.

After Manchin's announcement, Sen.

Americans deserve and need a fully functioning Supreme Court, and so we get it that Republicans are considering the so-called nuclear option to confirm the eminently qualified Neil Gorsuch to the post.

With the United States Senate poised to vote next week, Sen.

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Gorsuch has been a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has written about his issues with Chevron deference, the Supreme Court precedent for allowing agencies to interpret ambiguous statutes, something Gorsuch has suggested should be left to the courts given separation of powers and equal access issues, points he made in his four-day nomination hearing. "Therefore, I can not support cloture and will not support the confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court".

The court has been operating with eight members since the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016. But if one of the more liberal justices dies or retires, Trump's next pick could fundamentally alter the balance of the court.

That would drop the threshold for approving Supreme Court justices from 60 to 51 votes. "That is why it is important that a nominee to the Supreme Court be approved by more than 60 votes, not a razor thin partisan majority". "I told you once they changed the rules for the lower court, it was just a matter of time".

In March 2016, Obama nominated appeals court judge Merrick Garland for the seat, but his nomination never came up for a vote in the Republican-controlled Senate and expired when the 114th Congress ended on January 3.

"They will do that if they need to do it", Ayotte said of the potential rule change.

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