weather icon Clear

Gorsuch nomination clears committee; Senate showdown ahead

Updated April 3, 2017 - 2:27 pm

WASHINGTON — A Senate panel voted along party lines Friday to advance the U.S. Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, setting up a historic showdown later this week in the full Senate.

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 to refer President Donald Trump’s high court selection to the full chamber, where debate is set to begin Tuesday and will culminate in a vote scheduled for Friday.

Democrats are threatening to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee. And Republicans are prepared to change Senate rules to seat Trump’s nominee.

The parliamentary tactics are the result of the hyper-partisan atmosphere following a divisive general election. Republicans are confident the Senate will fill the vacant Supreme Court seat, a major issue in the 2016 presidential race.

Republicans on the committee sought to portray Gorsuch as a centrist nominee with sterling credentials.

“Judge Gorsuch is imminently qualified. He is a mainstream judge,” said Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, the chairman of the committee, who noted the nominee’s 10-year record on the federal bench and the 2,700 cases he helped decide.

But Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., the ranking Democrat on the panel, said we “are not just evaluating a resume.”

She said she could not support Gorsuch, citing his rulings, views on voting rights and his legal counsel to the Bush administration on torture tactics in Iraq.

The chairman and ranking member set the tone for statements made by every member of the committee.

Gorsuch, 49, was confirmed by voice vote in 2006 to serve on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. The judge has roots in Colorado and currently lives in Boulder.

The committee vote on the nominee follows four days of hearings. Gorsuch testified during three days. He was embraced by Republicans on the panel and grilled by Democrats about rulings that they said favored corporations and businesses over people.

Democrats also bristled at the nomination of Gorsuch to fill a vacancy that was held open during the last year of Barack Obama’s presidency. Republicans refused to give Obama’s pick, appellate Judge Merrick Garland, a hearing.

“What a shameful stain on the proud history of this committee,” said Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt.

The Supreme Court vacancy was created when Justice Antonin Scalia died Feb. 13, 2016.

Democrats have vowed to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, forcing Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority, to get 60 votes to stop debate to hold an up-or-down vote.

Nevada’s two senators, Dean Heller, a Republican, and Catherine Cortez Masto, a Democrat, have aligned with their respective party leaders.

Two Democrats, Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, have said they plan to join Republicans and support the nominee. Those two lawmakers come from states where Trump won the general election.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said it is highly unlikely that the Republicans will get the 60 votes needed to end the filibuster.

Republicans are expected to trigger the “nuclear option,” a rule change that would allow them to end debate with a simple majority, vote on the nomination and seat Gorsuch on the high court by end of April.

The last time the nuclear option was triggered was in 2013 when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., changed the rules to break Republican opposition to Obama’s lower court justices and administrative appointments.

Democrats left the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court justices and legislation.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said Democrats were forcing Republicans to change the rules on the filibuster for a Supreme Court nominee, a rule that has been in place since the 1940s. He said the harm to the Senate “is very real” and unnecessary because of Gorsuch’s qualifications.

“This will be the last person to face a filibuster,” Graham said. “It says more about the Senate than it does about Judge Gorsuch.”

But Sen. Richard Durbin, D-Ill., said rule changes are the result of Republican strategy under Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to block previous nominees to lower courts and refuse a hearing to Garland.

Durbin agreed with Graham that changing the rule would change the institution of the Senate.

“It breaks my heart to find us in this situation,” Durbin said.

Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., said “we are at a historic moment in the Senate,” a destination that is the result of mistakes made by both parties, he said.

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
The Right Take: Biden's Racially Questionable Comments
Joe Biden has uttered racially charged statements for years. Now that he’s the frontrunner for the Democrat presidential nomination, he may finally face prolonged scrutiny for them.
Christopher Rufo Discusses Homelessness In The USA - VIDEO
Christopher Rufo discusses homelessness in the United States and how politicians can work to improve conditions for those with drug addictions.
Clark County 2019 Election Results - Video
The 2019 Elections wrap up in Clark County including an upset in the Boulder City Mayor race.
Olivia Diaz talks about her win in Ward 3 - VIDEO
Las Vegas City Councilwoman-elect Olivia Diaz talks about her election win in Ward 3 and what lies ahead for her.
Greene discusses Read by 3 and Opportunity Scholarships - VIDEO
The Nevada Legislative Session is over and the results are mixed for Nevada students, according to Tom Greene, Senior regional legislative director, Excel in Ed in Action.
Bernie Sanders visits Las Vegas
Sen. Bernie Sanders made a stop at Roy W. Martin middle school on Thursday, during his campaign trail.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Las Vegas
Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris castigated President Donald Trump’s merit-based immigration plan, saying it was “short-sighted” and overlooked the cultural significance of family, during a campaign stop in Las Vegas. “We cannot allow people to start parsing and pointing fingers and creating hierarchies among immigrants,” Harris told Asian Pacific Islander leaders at a Chinatown restaurant, one of two appearances she made Thursday.
The Right Take New Education Funding Plan - VIDEO
On Monday, Senate Education Committee chair Mo Denis, D-Las Vegas, released a new education funding formula. For years, many Democrat politicians have criticized the current education funding formula, called the Nevada Plan. They claim it’s old and outdated. Their biggest beef is that it doesn’t allocate more money for students who are English Language Learners or live in poverty. The theory is that it’s harder to educate those students and so they need additional services, which costs additional money.
Kamala Harris campaigns in Nevada
California Senator Kamala Harris meets with One APIA Nevada, a nonprofit organization that advocates for policies empowering Asian Pacific Islander Nevadans. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Ben Carson talks housing (Audio only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Ben Carson visits the RJ (Full Audio Only)
Ben Carson discusses housing with the Review-Journal editorial board on Thursday. (Audio only)
Former Vice President Joe Biden campaigns in Nevada
After campaigning at the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 16 in Henderson, former Vice President Joe Biden spoke with the Review-Journal.
Student serenades Mayor Carolyn Goodman at swearing in
Students from the school she founded, The Meadows School, serenaded Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman during a swearing in ceremony for her third and final term. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Al Gore Speaks At UNLV About Climate Change - Video
Former Vice President of the United States Al Gore talks to an audience at UNLV about the effects of Climate change and how to switch to renewable sources of energy.
Forum on Wages and Working People Highlights - VIDEO
Presidential candidates Elizabeth Warren, Beto O'Rourke, Kamala Harris, Amy Klobuchar, Julian Castro, and John Hickenlooper speak in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Nevada Politics Today Valerie Weber - VIDEO
Valerie Weber sits down with Victor Joecks to discuss her policies and why she is running for Ward 2 of the Las Vegas City Council.
Cory Booker speaks at UNLV
US Senator Cory Booker speaks at UNLV during a Young Democrats meet and greet on Thursday, April 18, 2019. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
May-Brown describes why some with disabilities need the subminimum wage - VIDEO
Eliminating the subminimum wage will end training and work opportunities for some members of the disabled community. Instead of doing something productive, they would be relegated to adult day care. That’s according to Tracy May-Brown, Opportunity Village’s director of advocacy, board and government relations.
Commission’s decision will delay Red Rock Canyon development
The Clark County Commission Wednesday rejected a developer’s request to approve a preliminary plan for 3,000 homes overlooking Red Rock Canyon before a federal agency grants permission for a roadway leading to the site.
Clark County commissioner calls on landlords to bring properties up to code
Clark County Commissioner Tick Segerblom has called on landlords in older parts of the valley to bring their properties up to code and keep them well-maintained or face the prospect of inspections, fines and citations. (K.M. Cannon/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @KMCannonPhoto
Harry Reid speaks out against anti-Semitism
Unnerved by the rise in anti-Semitic hate speech and the general pervasiveness of bigotry, including in Nevada, former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid organized an educational forum at UNLV on Thursday as part of his call to unite people against it. (Shea Johnson/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
President Trump speaks to the Republican Jewish Coalition in Las Vegas
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and updated on Israeli relations. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump says border wall will have 'hundreds of miles' built by end of next year
President Donald Trump spoke at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting in Las Vegas and discussed the progress of the border wall and the current relations there. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Protesters disrupt Trump's speech
Just as President Donald Trump started to make his opening remarks during his appearance at the Republican Jewish Coalition’s National Leadership Meeting, protesters disrupted his speech. (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Roerink On The Problems With Taking Water From Eastern Nevada - Video
The Southern Nevada Water Authority wants to take billions of gallons of water that doesn’t exist from Eastern Nevada via a pipeline that would cost ratepayers $15 billion. Doing so would devastate the wildlife and people who live there. That’s according to Kyle Roerink, executive director of the Great Basin Water Network, which opposes the pipeline.
Las Vegas Election Night Wrap-Up
The Review-Journal's Politics and Government Editor, Steve Sebelius, wraps up election night. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Olivia Diaz Speaks To Ward 3 Supporters After Primary Election - Video
Olivia Diaz speaks to her supporters at a election party after results started coming in for the Ward 3 primaries.
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (edited)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife, Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Oscar Goodman Speaks On Behalf Of Mayor At Primary Win (Full)
Oscar Goodman spoke Tuesday night on behalf of his wife Carolyn, who won the mayoral primary election. (Mat Luschek / Review-Journal)
Gun Debate Shows Limits Of Government - Video
On Monday, the Assembly and Senate Judiciary Committees held a joint hearing on Assembly Bill 291. It would ban bump stocks and allow local governments to pass additional restrictions on firearms.
Lucy Flores speaks out about Biden incident
Former Nevada assemblywoman, Lucy Flores, expresses her feelings about an incident with former Vice President Joe Biden in 2014. (Michael Quine/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @Vegas88s
Harry Reid takes the stand in injury lawsuit
Former U.S. Sen. Harry Reid took the stand on Thursday in the product liability lawsuit brought against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Jurors hear opening statements in Reid personal injury trial
Opening statements were made on Tuesday in the product liability lawsuit brought by Harry Reid against against the makers of a resistance exercise band that Reid blames for blinding him in one eye.
Mayor Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels
Mayor Carolyn Goodman delivers Meals on Wheels to seniors on March 26, 2019.
Trump order aims to disclose ‘real’ costs for health care

The details of what information will have to be disclosed and how it will be made available to patients must be worked out as part of writing the regulations.

US moves 300 migrant kids after poor conditions exposed in Texas

The U.S. government has removed most of the children from a remote Border Patrol station in Texas following reports that more than 300 children were detained there.

Judge says census question might have discriminatory motive

A U.S. judge says new evidence paints a “disturbing picture” that racial discrimination may be the motive behind the Trump administration’s push to ask everyone in the country about citizenship status.

Supreme Court rules for business, government in information fight

The Supreme Court sided with businesses and the U.S. government Monday in a ruling about the public’s access to information, telling a South Dakota newspaper it can’t get the data it was seeking.

Bernie Sanders to unveil bill to cancel all student loan debt

Days before the first Democratic presidential debates, Sen. Bernie Sanders and House progressives are unveiling legislation canceling all student debt, going further than a signature proposal by Sen. Elizabeth Warren as the two jockey for support from the party’s liberal base.