Monday, April 3, 2017

Ps and Qs: Qualifications v. Politics

Today, The Senate Committee on the Judiciary held their vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch. The vote was on whether to send his nomination to the Senate Floor for a final confirmation vote. Perhaps the most passionate speech was that of Senator Chuck Grassley, Chairman of the Judiciary Committee. 

Senator Grassley also published an op-ed today reiterating his analysis and commentary of the Gorsuch Nomination explaining why any argument against Judge Gorsuch is nothing more than politics at play, not about qualifications:
From beginning to end, partisans and non-partisans alike sang his praises. It started the first day of the hearing when President Obama’s former Solicitor General introduced Judge Gorsuch.  For anybody questioning this nominee’s credentials, Democrat or Republican, I’d invite them to read General Neal Katyal’s introduction. It showed genuine appreciation for Judge Gorsuch himself and his approach to the law… Judge Gorsuch’s testimony, and the testimony of witnesses who actually know him, creates a dilemma for anybody desperately searching for a reason to vote oppose his nomination.  Because if you’re voting on qualifications and not politics, it’s an easy yes.
Despite the “we need nine” mantra from last year, we’ve already heard that Senator Schumer will lead a Democratic filibuster apparently based on hollow reasons that Judge Gorsuch has already answered. He’s not mainstream. He’s not independent.  He’s not telling us how he’ll vote. And, now, because none of those accusations will stick, the Democrats have resorted to attacking his supporters. These same senators don’t like talking about the groups on the left who are attacking the nominee, misrepresenting his record and threatening to primary any Democrat who makes an independent decision. 
 It’s become abundantly clear that if the Democrats are willing to filibuster somebody with the credentials, judicial temperament and independence of Judge Gorsuch, it’s obvious they would filibuster anybody… If we’re ever going to get past the well Senator Schumer poisoned when he led the Democrats to “change the ground rules” in 2001 and systematically filibuster circuit court nominees for the first time in our nation’s history, we’re going to need to dig a new well. With or without Senate Democrats. 
Anybody watching the nomination hearing for Judge Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee witnessed a brilliant presentation showcasing his command of the law, his record of independence, his strong sense of humility, and his focus on following the Constitution instead of prejudging cases or promising results.
In short, Democrats are merely playing politics here. The ultimate example may be Senator Chris Coons.  

"I will push for a hearing and I will push for a vote," he said.
Just weeks ago Coons appeared to recommit to that position, remarking, "I am alarmed, gravely concerned and vigorously opposing executive orders, nominees, cabinet appointments for this president, but not every one of them," Coons continued, "because not every one of them is outrageous and unreasonable."

No one has called Judge Gorsuch “unreasonable.”  Yet Senator Coons is the 41st vote for a filibuster, the ultimate vigorous opposition.  

On Monday, despite previously pledging to "push for a vote," the senator actually provided his party with the support to filibuster that vote he once believed was so important.

Ultimately, Judge Gorsuch was voted out of committee today, with a vote of 11 to 9, along party lines. The full Senate Floor vote on Judge Gorsuch's confirmation will be this Friday.

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