Today Judge Neil Gorsuch’s supporters are warning that the Democrats should not “Bork” President Trump’s nominee. Given Gorsuch’s stellar professional record, his competence does not seem to be in question. At least from the leaked remarks about his meeting with Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal, he appears to have a healthy unease with President Trump’s aggressive statements about the judiciary.
But there are many reasons for Democrats to consider using their power to filibuster his nomination. After Republicans refused to confirm former President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland—leaving many Democrats to feel like this is a “stolen seat”—the president could have sent a consensus nominee. After having lost the popular election by large numbers and now stimulating fears that he won’t respect our system of checks and balances, this was the moment to demonstrate that he understands the tensions he’s helped create. Rather than a pick intended to please the right, he could have selected someone who Democrats could have felt good about supporting even if it came from this administration.
But he did not. With Gorsuch, Trump has put forward a nominee who comes from the most conservative part of the judicial spectrum. As an originalist who is a favorite of the Federalist Society, Gorsuch has a very conservative record on key issues like religious rights, reproductive rights, gay marriage, gun rights, criminal justice and more. There is good reason to believe that he would uphold the principles of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and pose a serious threat to a number of important public policies. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, writing in The New York Times, warned that Gorsuch refused in their closed-door interview to answer “rudimentary” questions about executive power, campaign finance, voting rights or the constitutionality of Trump’s refugee ban.