US Democrats confirm votes in bid to block Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch

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Neil Gorsuch.

Senate Democrats say they now have enough votes to try to block Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch with a filibuster, setting up a showdown with Republicans who plan to confirm him anyway.

The crucial 41st vote came from Democratic Sen Chris Coons of Delaware, who announced his decision on Monday as the Senate Judiciary Committee met to vote on Mr Gorsuch’s nomination. Mr Coons said that he had decided to oppose President Donald Trump’s nominee over concerns that include his vague answers in his hearing.

Mr Coons’s opposition will prevent Republicans from reaching the 60 votes they need to move Mr Gorsuch (pictured) over procedural hurdles to a final Senate vote. Determined to confirm him despite Democratic objections, they will likely change Senate rules later this week to reduce the threshold from 60 to a simple majority.

The starkly divided Senate panel weighed Mr Gorsuch’s nomination, with Republicans casting the Denver-based appeals court judge as fiercely independent and Democrats complaining that his testimony “diluted with ambiguity” makes him the wrong choice.

The Republican-led Judiciary panel was expected to back Mr Gorsuch and send his nomination to the full Senate, most likely on a near-party line vote.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley strongly defended Mr Gorsuch as a fair and independent man.
He said Democrats had worked to try and find fault with him, but “that fault will not stick”.
“He’s a mainstream judge who’s earned the universal respect of his colleagues on the bench and in the bar,” Mr Grassley said.

“He applies the law as we in Congress write it – as the judicial oath says, without respect to persons. And he refuses to compromise his independence.”

However, Sen Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the panel, said Mr Gorsuch’s answers during two days of questioning before the committee were “diluted with ambiguity”.
She announced her opposition to the nominee.

“Judge Gorsuch’s views were difficult to discern because he refused to answer questions, even basic questions that had been answered by previous nominees,” Ms Feinstein said.
Democrats are angry in part because Republicans last year blocked President Barack Obama’s pick for the job after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Even before President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, Mr McConnell said the next president should choose the nominee, and Mr Grassley’s committee never held a hearing on Mr Garland.
“This action by my colleagues was unacceptable and has scarred this process and this body,” Mr Coons said before announcing his opposition.

With his announcement, 40 Democrats and one independent have announced they will vote to block the nomination on a procedural cloture vote – a parliamentary step to advance the nomination – and oppose the choice.

The starkly divided Senate panel weighed Mr Gorsuch’s nomination, with Republicans casting the Denver-based appeals court judge as fiercely independent and Democrats complaining that his testimony “diluted with ambiguity” makes him the wrong choice.

The Republican-led Judiciary panel was expected to back Mr Gorsuch and send his nomination to the full Senate, most likely on a near-party line vote.

Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley strongly defended Mr Gorsuch as a fair and independent man.
He said Democrats had worked to try and find fault with him, but “that fault will not stick”.
“He’s a mainstream judge who’s earned the universal respect of his colleagues on the bench and in the bar,” Mr Grassley said.

“He applies the law as we in Congress write it – as the judicial oath says, without respect to persons. And he refuses to compromise his independence.”

However, Sen Dianne Feinstein of California, the top Democrat on the panel, said Mr Gorsuch’s answers during two days of questioning before the committee were “diluted with ambiguity”.
She announced her opposition to the nominee.

“Judge Gorsuch’s views were difficult to discern because he refused to answer questions, even basic questions that had been answered by previous nominees,” Ms Feinstein said.

Democrats are angry in part because Republicans last year blocked President Barack Obama’s pick for the job after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Even before President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland, Mr McConnell said the next president should choose the nominee, and Mr Grassley’s committee never held a hearing on Mr Garland.
“This action by my colleagues was unacceptable and has scarred this process and this body,” Mr Coons said before announcing his opposition.

With his announcement, 40 Democrats and one independent have announced they will vote to block the nomination on a procedural cloture vote – a parliamentary step to advance the nomination – and oppose the choice.

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