Supreme Court  
Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch.....

Democrats are Ready for Gorsuch Battle

Within minutes of President Donald Trump's selection of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats who will lead the fight in the Senate delivered scathing assessments -- but held fire on perhaps the most important question facing them: whether they will filibuster the nomination.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer immediately said he had "serious doubts" about Gorsuch and hinted at a Democratic filibuster, saying the nominee would need to the support of 60 senators to be confirmed, but stopped short of committing to the tactic.
"Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch's fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice," Schumer said Tuesday night.
On the surface, Senate Democrats stuck to a firm but somewhat noncommittal message that hinted at the behind-the-scenes debate at the Capitol over whether Democrats will filibuster.
If they choose to hold up his nomination unless he can win 60 votes, Democrats risk spurring Republicans to use the "nuclear option" to rewrite the rules to only require 51 votes for confirmation.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, meaning they would still need to find the support of eight Democrats without the nuclear option.
It's possible moderate Democrats facing tough re-election battles could be plucked away by Republicans to support Gorsuch. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, issued muted statements Tuesday night.
"I look forward to meeting with Judge Gorsuch, examining his record, and making a determination of whether to provide my consent. Just as I have all along, I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed," Manchin said.
And Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who votes with Democrats, hesitated to go after Gorsuch, saying he wants the nominee to go through a thorough vetting before making a decision.
Democrats, meanwhile, are already facing intense pressure from a liberal base fired up after Trump's inauguration, the immigration ban and a perception that some senators, including Schumer, have been soft on Trump's Cabinet picks.
House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a veteran liberal from San Francisco, laid out her opposition in stark terms at a CNN town hall Tuesday night.
"If you breathe air, drink water or eat food, take medicine or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision well outside the mainstream of American legal thought," Pelosi said.
Top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will spend the coming months vetting (and potentially blocking) Gorsuch announced "deep concerns" with his selection.
"I have deep, serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch," said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. "An extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights including women's health care, worker and consumer protections, and public health and safety."
And Sen. Patrick Leahy, the former chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee who shepherded President Barack Obama's two nominees on to the high court, sought to hang Trump's immigration ban around Gorsuch's neck immediately.
"In light of the unconstitutional actions of our new President in just his first week, the Senate owes the American people a thorough and unsparing examination of this nomination," Leahy said.
Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz hinted at the idea of cracking open the "nuclear option" if Democrats when asked how Republicans should respond to a filibuster.



Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

President Donald Trump will nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Trump announced Tuesday night at the White House.

The nomination of Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appellate judge from Colorado, gives Trump and Republicans the opportunity to confirm someone who could cement the conservative direction of the court for decades.
His selection also sets up an intense fight with Senate Democrats, still angry over the Republicans' decision to essentially ignore former President Barack Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the empty Supreme Court seat last year.
Introducing Gorsuch, Trump said he had committed as a candidate to "find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court."
"Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue for them when they voted for me for president," Trump said. "I am a man of my word."
"Today I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court."
The court has been operating with eight justices since the sudden death last February of Justice Antonin Scalia. If confirmed, Gorsuch would continue the ideological balance that existed before Scalia's death, with four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote between the blocs.
Trump selected Gorsuch -- who sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals -- from a list of 20 potential justices compiled during the presidential campaign in a direct appeal to conservative and evangelical voters skeptical about his commitment to their values.
Gorsuch's opinions on religious liberty, where he sided with the challengers to the so-called Obamacare contraceptive mandate, and on the separation of powers, where he said too much deference was given by the courts to administrative agencies, are key to his appeal to Republicans. As is his age. At 49, he could carry on Trump's legacy long after the President leaves office.

Gorsuch's legal philosophy

Unlike others on Trump's list, Gorsuch has an Ivy League pedigree, having attended Columbia and Harvard, and also studied at Oxford, where he earned a doctorate in legal philosophy.
Gorsuch is a fourth-generation Coloradan and a former clerk to both Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
"It is an extraordinary resume. As good as it gets," Trump said.
"The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute," Trump said. "I only hope that Democrats and Republicans can come together for one, for the good of the country."
On the bench he joined an opinion siding with closely held corporations who believed that the so-called contraceptive mandate of Obamacare violated their religious beliefs. The ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court. Gorsuch wrote separately holding that the mandate infringed upon the owners' religious beliefs "requiring them to lend what their religion teaches to be an impermissible degree of assistance to the commission of what their religion teaches to be a moral wrong."
He also wrote a majority opinion in a separation of powers case holding that too much deference was given to administrative agencies. This issue is a favorite of conservatives and Gorsuch's beliefs align with those of Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas.
Gorsuch, in a speech last year at Case Western Reserve University School of law, aligned himself with Scalia's judicial philosophy.
"The great project of Justice Scalia's career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators. To remind us that legislators may appeal to their own moral convictions and to claims about social utility to reshape the law as they think it should be in the future, " he said. "But that judges should do none of these things in a democratic society."
At the White House Gorsuch he would faithfully commit to upholding the laws of the nation, saying he would act as a "servant of the Constitution and laws of this country."
Like Trump, he cited Scalia as a model.
"Justice Scalia was a lion of the law," he said.

Democratic opposition and the ghost of Garland

Senate Democratic leaders instantly painted Gorsuch as an extremist and said he must get the 60 votes needed to break a filibuster.
"Judge Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women's rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent justice on the court," Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said Trump "outsourced this process to far-right interest groups."
"President Trump said he would appoint justices who would overturn 40 years of jurisprudence established in Roe v. Wade," Leahy said. "Judge Gorsuch has shown a willingness to limit women's access to health care that suggests the President is making good on that promise."
For Democrats, the nomination is made worse by what happened with Garland.
When Obama nominated Garland to take Scalia's seat last year, liberals hoped that they would get a liberal majority that would swing the court left on key issues such as abortion, campaign finance and voting rights.
But Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings, citing the impending election which was still eight months away.
Democrats have said they would fight the new nominee "tooth and nail" putting not only his or her credentials to the test, but holding Republicans responsible for what liberals say is a "stolen seat."
After Trump's unexpected win, conservatives rejoiced, expecting the new president to nominate someone to the bench in the mold of Scalia. They also hope that with three justices on the Supreme Court in their late 70s and early 80s, Trump might have at least one more vacancy to fill.
If, for example, Justice Anthony Kennedy were to step down, the conservatives might be able to chip away at Roe v. Wade, the landmark opinion that legalized abortion.

Mother was EPA administrator

Gorsuch's confirmation would mean a return to Washington.
He spent part of his youth in Washington when his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, served in the Reagan administration as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
She resigned in 1983 under controversy after refusing to turn over toxic waste records to Congress.
He served as a partner at a prestigious Washington Law firm, Kellogg, Huber as well as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.
Gorsuch and his wife Louise have two daughters. They live in Boulder, Colorado.




Trump to Announce Supreme Court Pick in Prime Time Ceremony

President Trump is poised on Tuesday to announce his nominee to the Supreme Court, a decision certain to touch off a bruising ideological clash that could shape his presidency and have sweeping consequences for American law.

Mr. Trump is scheduled to reveal his choice during an evening ceremony in the White House East Room. It is set to unfold in prime time, an attention-grabbing way for the president — consumed in recent days with questions about his hard-line order cracking down on immigration and refugees — to frame what conservatives and liberals see as a battle for the future of the nation’s highest court.

At least some Democrats, embittered by Republicans’ refusal to even consider former President Barack Obama’s choice to fill a vacancy created by the sudden death last February of Justice Antonin Scalia, have signaled they are likely to oppose whomever Mr. Trump selects.

The leading finalists were believed to be two federal appeals court judges with strong conservative records: Neil M. Gorsuch of the Denver-based 10th Circuit and Thomas M. Hardiman of the Third Circuit, sitting in Pittsburgh, according to Republican officials close to the process and others who have been consulted. A third appeals court judge, William H. Pryor Jr. of the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit, has also been reported to be in the running.

But even before Mr. Trump has named his choice to succeed Justice Scalia, the outspoken intellectual leader of the court’s conservative wing, Democrats and progressive groups have been preparing for a fight over the seat. Justice Scalia’s status has made the choice of his successor a particularly symbolic one among conservatives, and it helped fuel the refusal of Republicans for nearly a year to consider Mr. Obama’s choice of Merrick B. Garland.

Mr. Trump’s desire is to nudge the court the opposite way.

Several officials said the White House is expected to use the appointment in part to send a message to Justice Anthony Kennedy, 80, who holds a swing vote in many Supreme Court cases and has been considering retirement. Nominating Mr. Gorsuch, a former clerk to Justice Kennedy who is viewed as a conservative but mainstream choice, might reassure him that he could step down and open a new vacancy on the court.

Choosing a more ideologically extreme candidate, the officials said, could tempt Justice Kennedy to hang on to his seat for several more years, depriving Mr. Trump of another seat to fill.

Yet Democrats seem unlikely to be satisfied with anyone the president chooses. Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, has said he is ready to block any candidate he sees as outside the mainstream, a stance that could touch off a Senate showdown in which Mr. Trump is already urging Republicans to change longstanding rules and push through his nominee on a simple majority vote.

Progressive groups were planning a nighttime rally in front of the court, anticipating an “extreme” nominee.

“Activists will make clear that the Senate cannot confirm a nominee who will simply be a rubber stamp for President Trump’s anti-constitutional efforts that betray American values,” according to a statement from the organizations, which include People for the American Way, Naral Pro-Choice America and the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights.

ny times


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