Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell intends to secure 60 votes for President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, before the scheduled April 8 vote. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer threatens a filibuster if the Senate does not approve the nomination with 60 votes. McConnell has said that Gorsuch will be confirmed “one way or another,” implying that he intends to use the “nuclear option” to break the filibuster.
However the Gorsuch struggle plays out, it will not end the struggle for a United States Supreme Court majority. The March Judiciary Committee hearings have been a rehearsal for debates in the full Senate about Judge Gorsuch, and also for all future Republican nominees.
Keep in mind that the object of all these debates is to sway public opinion. The senators rocking uneasily, back and forth on the fence will try to figure out which argument has the biggest impact on their constituents, and when they jump, they will justify themselves by citing that same argument.
Below are some of the easily debunked attacks against Gorsuch – attacks that liberals would use against any conservative nominee.
The seat belongs to Merrick Garland because Obama nominated him first
For some opponents, the nominee’s judicial philosophy and record are less important than the Republican-led Senate’s refusal to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick. Sally Kohn tweets with emphatic capitals and six exclamation points: “Don’t forget that Republicans DIDN’T EVEN GIVE OBAMA’S #SCOTUS NOMINEE A HEARING!!!!!!” Ms. Kohn is my go-to twitter fiend when I look to the Left for expressions of clear, emphatic, artless stupidity.
By contrast, we always rely on Sen. Angus King for a slippery moderate-sounding statement. Mitch McConnell’s refusal last year to take up Garland’s nomination “was wrong,” he told a USM audience, “but having said that, we are where we are.” So he acknowledged the liberal grievance while leaving the question of his eventual vote open.
Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet of Colorado helped introduce the nominee and urged his colleague’s not to take their frustrations over the Garland out on Gorsuch. It’s doubtful this will have much effect.
Gorsuch is not likable, he’s just pretending to be
This is a little silly and it does not come from the Democrats on the committee. It’s only significant because it reflects a deep frustration over the man’s reassuring demeanor and pleasant manner. Joan Vennochi, a Boston Globe columnist sneers at his “folksy affect.” Dana Milbank, the Washington Post’s pre-eminent roboliberal columnist gets really riled, commenting bitterly that “Good-golly Gorsuch” is “excruciatingly folksy,” offensively self-deprecating, obsequious, and not a bit funny. He concludes that “It’s a good bet that Gorsuch, once he has charmed the grown-ups and secured confirmation, will… reveal himself to be a rascal and cause all manner of mischief on the court with abortion and gun rights, money in politics and presidential power.” Joan and Dana don’t actually explain why they think the man is nasty, the just wish he acted that way.
The man is a misogynist
Gorsuch is a conservative and it’s pretty well-established among liberals that conservatives hate their wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters. Nan Aron has showed up on PBS NewsHour to declare that Gorsuch has a long history of expressing contempt and hostility toward women. He once belonged to a fraternity notable for its “violent misogyny.” She cites no example of the nominee’s hatred and violence other than his remark that “demonstrations and rallies are causes that inspire no one and offer no fresh ideas or important notions” for society to consider.
Nan clinches her case by citing letters “from law students claiming that Gorsuch made inappropriate comments last year about women seeking time off to have children.” She’s apparently referring to a single letter by a law student alleging that, while teaching a course on professional ethics, Gorsuch “accused” women of abusing employers by joining law firms with the intention of immediately getting pregnant to take advantage of the maternity benefits.
Multiple students report that Gorsuch discussed the topic of parental leave in the ethics class in which students were to think ethically about their professional behavior, but they differ on whether those discussions were problematic. Nan does not mention that the student letter-writer, Jennifer Sisk, is a former Obama political appointee and aide to a liberal Democratic senator. Her allegations have not received support from any other students in the class.
The nominee navigates away from the mainstream
Leftlurchers, no matter how loony, usually claim they spend their happiest hours splashing around in the pure waters of the mainstream. They love contracting this with conservatives, who swim in sewers polluted by hellish ideologies. The left calls Gorsuch “far-right,” “radical,” “pro-corporate,” “ultra-conservative,” and “arch-conservative.”
Sen. Schumer, who floats his boat in the Manhattan mainstream, attributes his opposition to the nominee’s faulty navigation. Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the highest-ranking Democrat on the Committee, points to Merrick Garland, the mainstream moderate nominee of her dreams. Feinstein is from San Francisco, the spring from which the mainstream originates.
The fact that the nominee’s decisions have never been overturned or that his decisions have concurred with the great majority of his colleagues won’t make any difference.
Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy is totally unacceptable
On the first day of hearings, Sen. Feinstein announced that she was deeply troubled because Gorsuch identified himself as a constitutional “originalist.” This is not a theory of constitutional interpretation that no liberal can possibly like. It is a known and indisputable fact that liberals are always deeply troubled by any theory that contradicts their faith. Worse, they get upset by any fact that contradicts their faith.
The lady from San Francisco firmly believes that the Constitution is “a living document that evolves as our country evolves.” She pointed out that when the document was drafted, “women were still being burned at the stake for witchcraft.” Actually, all the witch trials in colonial America took place in a few villages around Salem, Massachusetts. between February 1692 and early 1693. In January 1697, the Massachusetts General Court declared a day of fasting for the tragedy of the witch trials. In 1711, Massachusetts passed legislation restoring the good names of the condemned and providing financial restitution to their heirs. George Washington was born in 1732. No delegate at the 1787 Constitutional convention would have been born before Americans had abandoned witch burning. Better luck next time, Feinstein.
Feinstein’s historical weirdness has to be the weakest attack on originalism we can expect to hear.
Guilt by association
Liberals despised this tactic as cruel and wicked when practiced by evil Joe McCarthy, but they find it virtuous and praiseworthy when employed for a good cause. Sen. Dick Durbin detonated the Trump Bomb during hearings, demanding to know why White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus praised Gorsuch as a nominee who “represents the type of judge that has the vision of Donald Trump.”
Tom Perez, the new chair of the Democratic National Committee, worries about indirect associations with Vladimir Putin. His recent tweet: “…it’s entirely unacceptable for Donald Trump to place a justice on SCOTUS with his presidency under the cloud of an FBI investigation.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse devoted his first day of questions to Gorsuch to the subject of “dark money.” Whitehouse complained about a $10 million campaign in support of confirming Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. According to Rhode Island’s second smartest senator “dark money” is being used to finance a campaign in support of the nomination. No reason to believe the man has any connection with the campaign, but dark money does suggest darkness.
Gorsuch lacks empathy and humanity
Sen. Kamala Harris complains Gorsuch pays too much attention to “legalisms.” This is a reaction to the nominee’s insistence that it’s his job to apply the law, not write them. We’ve heard a lot of empathy rhetoric ever since Robert Bork’s 1987 hearing.
This appeals to a lot of people who don’t know spit about law, but know themselves to be empathetic and sympathetic and pretty good people altogether. This is praiseworthy, but may overlook the fact that judges have law degrees, and that no law school offers courses in empathy. If empathy is the primary quality we want on the Supreme Court bench, we should not pick justices from the ranks of the legal fraternity, but from veterinarians instead.