Lindsey Graham to Back 'Nuclear Option' to Stop Dem Filibuster on Gorsuch

After the hearing, the Judiciary panel is expected to vote in the next two weeks to recommend Gorsuch favorably to the full Senate.

Under questioning from Graham, Gorsuch repeated statements he'd made publicly for the first time Tuesday, that he was "disheartened" and "demoralized" by Trump's attacks on the judiciary, including federal judges who blocked the president's refugee travel ban. Senate Republicans denied Garland a hearing, much less a vote, and have kept the seat vacant for more than a year.

Democrats have threatened to force any of Trump's Supreme Court nominees to clear procedural hurdles since previous year.

What questions could both Democrats and Republicans put to him and what questions could he answer that would inform their judgment and illuminate his thinking without committing his judgment?

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reportedly considering the "nuclear option", which would only require 51 votes to advance Gorsuch's nomination.

Neil Gorsuch testifies Wednesday before the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing on his nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court. "I'm not going to say anything here that would give anybody any idea how I'd rule in any case like that that could come before the Supreme Court".

"To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes, we ought to change the rules, I say, if this nominee can not earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President [Barack] Obama's nominees and President [George W.] Bush's last two nominees, the answer isn't to change the rules, it's to change the nominee", Schumer said. But when McConnell announced this week that he meant to get Gorsuch confirmed by the Senate's Easter recess on April 7, that was a clock that forced the Democrats' hand. In days gone by, it would have been easy for senators to say, in essence, that they will not vote to continue a filibuster, that the nominee deserves an up-or-down vote. The next high court opening could alter the balance of the court, and some Democrats privately argue that fight will be far more consequential than the current one. Some Democrats would be willing to vote to end the filibuster on a second cloture vote, which in the past has been common, to allow more time for debate. John McCain worked out a deal with them to avoid changing the filibuster rule. Under the deal worked out with McCain, the Democrats would forgo a change in the filibuster rule if the Republicans would allow a vote on one of those nominees.

He said the judge is "not a neutral legal mind but someone with a deep-seated conservative ideology". Trump has urged McConnell to take that step if necessary.

During the hearings, Republican senators are doing their best to associate Judge Gorsuch with the popular-in-death Justice Scalia, and Democratic senators are doing their best to try to pin down Judge Gorsuch by making him commit publicly to positions on hot-button issues, such as abortion, gun rights and the use of unrestricted money in political campaigns.

Assured of support from majority Republicans, Gorsuch received glowing GOP reviews but complaints from frustrated Democrats that he concealed his views from the American public. "You can bet if the shoe were on the other foot and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI the Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances".

  • Joanne Flowers