Schumer on Gorsuch: Don’t change the rules, change the nominee

Schumer on Gorsuch: Don’t change the rules, change the nominee
© Keren Carrion

If President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch can’t get the 60 votes needed for confirmation, Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerCharles SchumerCapitol Hill's hypocrisy on intern pay Dems step up attacks on GOP ObamaCare bill Live coverage: Senate Dems hold talkathon to protest GOP health plan MORE (D-N.Y.) said Congress needs a new nominee.

President Trump urged Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSpecial election sweep boosts Trump agenda Five things to watch in Senate GOP’s ObamaCare repeal bill McConnell courts GOP centrists for health bill MORE (R-Ky.) last month to go nuclear if Democrats try to filibuster his nominee, invoking a procedural move that would allow Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority of 51 votes, instead of 60. 

“If a nominee cannot get 60 votes, you don’t change the rules, you change the nominee,” Schumer said, noting that Democrats didn’t change the rules when they were in power “because we knew it was such an important position it ought to get some bipartisan support.”

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He also claimed “a good number of our Republican colleagues” are against such a change.

Senate Democrats are pushing hard against Trump’s Supreme Court nominee ahead of his confirmation hearing next week.

“Neil Gorsuch may act like an neutral, calm judge, but his record and his career clearly show he harbors a right-wing, pro-corporate, special-interest agenda,” Schumer said at a press conference Wednesday, alongside Sen. Richard BlumenthalRichard BlumenthalOvernight Regulation: Labor groups fear rollback of Obama worker protection rule | Trump regs czar advances in Senate | New FCC enforcement chief Dems urge Sessions to reject AT&T-Time Warner merger Democrats tout suit on Trump’s foreign business connections MORE (D-Conn.) and people Gorsuch has ruled against on the 10th Circuit.

“He enacted [that agenda] time and time again on the 10th Circuit. I have no doubt he’d do it again on the Supreme Court,” Schumer added.

Citing a case against the University of Kansas, Katherine Hwang said Gorsuch didn’t think about the impact his decision would have on her family when he sided with the school and ruled it did not have to give her mother, who was battling cancer, more than six months of sick leave under the Rehabilitation Act.

Alphonse Maddin said Gorsuch was the only judge on the 10th Circuit to side with his employer, TransAm Trucking, after it fired him for leaving his cargo after he waited for hours without heat for a truck to come and repair the brakes on his trailer that froze in subzero temperatures. 

And Patricia Caplinger said it was Gorsuch who wrote the majority opinion dismissing her case against Medtronics for injuries she claimed were caused by the company’s improper, off-label promotion of its Infuse bone-graft device.

“It is my belief that Judge Gorsuch rules in favor of big business,” she said.                

In a statement, Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director for the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, defended Gorsuch’s record of 200-plus opinions, many of which, she said were majority rulings.

“Even in the few cases cherry-picked by Senator Schumer, his accusations fall flat because they often include unanimous opinions joined by Clinton-appointed judges,” she said. “Anyone seriously reviewing the Judge's record finds that he is a fair and independent judge who looks at the text of law and the Constitution to decide cases.”

In attacking Gorsuch Wednesday, Schumer cited a The New York Times report linking Gorsuch to billionaire Philip Anschutz, a connection he said should give senators pause about putting him on the nation’s highest court.

“It’s also another contradiction in President Trump,” he said. “He campaigned and talks about helping average folks. His first nominee to the Supreme Court has an instinctive reaction to side with big special corporate interest over average folks.”

According to the TimesGorsuch represented Anschutz and his companies in private practice, Anshutz later lobbied to get Gorsuch onto the federal appeals court and for nearly a dozen years Gorsuch has been partners with Anshutz’s top advisers in a limited-liability company.  

Blumenthal criticized Gorsuch for failing to answer clear questions about his views on worker protections, consumer rights, women's healthcare, privacy rights and the independence of the judiciary in meetings with senators.  

"I will be pressing him and aggressively questioning him on all of these issues because he has an obligation to come clean with the American people before he assumes a lifetime appointment on the nation’s highest court," he said.

"And if he shows in his answers that he is out of the mainstream as his opinions indicate he very well may be, I will use every tool available, including the filibuster, to oppose him."