SCOTUS: What will Democrats do over Judge Neil Gorsuch?

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Judge Neil Gorsuch. Credit: https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/

Judge Neil Gorsuch. Credit: https://www.ca10.uscourts.gov/


Questions:

1. As he might create a conservative majority at SCOTUS, which might have a huge influence on many issues, do you expect a huge resistance form Democrats regarding SCOTUS nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch or not, and why?

2. Judge Neil Gorsuch looks like quite conventional conservative pick. In general, what is your view on Judge Gorsuch?

Answers:

Ken Sherrill, Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, Hunter College , CUNY

1. I think the Democratic leadership might be reluctant to have a huge resistance because Trump is likely to win on this one. On the other hand, the base is very angry at Trump and Gorsuch has a very bad record on things like LGBT rights and religious exemptions to nondiscrimination laws. The same may be the case with gun-related issues and abortion rights. I have received countless invitations to rallies and demonstrations this weekend. If the base gets very agitated, the leadership will have to follow. After all, many of them fear primary challenges from the left when Congress, many Governors, and 1/3 of the Senate stand for reelection in 2018. One lesson of the Tea Party is that moderate members of congress were defeated in primaries by the right in 2010. Democrats will want to avoid that fate.

2. His voting record is conventional but there are indications that he is friendlier than most, that he writes unusually well, and that he may be more effective than Scalia by virtue of being more collegial. The New York Times’ analysis of his record places him to the right of Scalia but to the left of Thomas.

Stuart Streichler, Affiliate Associate Professor, Law, Societies and Justice Program, Faculty Associate, Center for Human Rights, University of Washington 

1. The environment for Supreme Court nominations has become even more partisan than usual since Republican senators refused to hold any hearings on President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. But while many Democratic Senators may want to hold up this appointment, it looks like they may be unable to mount a filibuster to stop the nomination from going through. Among Democratic Senators, several up for reelection in 2018 in states that President Trump won will be most likely to vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch.

2. Judge Gorsuch has all the right credentials for a Republican Supreme Court pick. He has a reputation for being an originalist like Justice Antonin Scalia was. Judge Gorsuch appears to be even more solicitous of religious rights than many other conservative judges are on the federal bench.

Jean Schroedel, Professor, Department of Politics and Policy, Claremont Graduate University

The Gorsuch pick does not shift the ideological balance within the Supreme Court from where it was prior to Scalia’s death.   What the Democrats in the Senate need to decide is whether they want to go full-out in opposing him, or whether it makes more sense to marshall their resources for a big fight over the next appointment, which given the age of other judges, is likely to occur within Trump’s first term.  The main difference between Scalia and Gorsuch is in their personalities, not their understanding of the law.  Scalia reveled in controversy and was scathing in his dismissal of those holding different views.  Gorsuch has a reputation for being much more collegial in his interactions.

Clyde WilcoxProfessor, Department of Government, Georgetown University

Democrats are in a bind.  On the one hand the GOP broke with 240 years of history and blocked a moderate nominee by Obama just because they could.  On the other hand if the  Democrats try to do that, they further break the institution.  So what do you do when one side breaks the rules repeatedly – do you obey the rules or not.

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