Democrat Senators Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp on Thursday became the first Democrats to publicly back Judge Neil Gorsuch for confirmation to Supreme Court.
Manchin was first. Manchin said in a statement released on Twitter, “After considering his record, watching his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee and meeting with him twice, I will vote to confirm him to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court.” Manchin went on to praise Gorsuch’s extensive education and legal career during which the nominee “clerked for two Supreme Court justices and worked at the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.” Manchin also said he found Gorsuch to be an “honest and thoughtful man.”
Heitkamp said in a statement, also released on Twitter, “After doing my due diligence by meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his record and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I’ve decided to vote in favor of his confirmation. He has a record as a balanced, meticulous, and well-respected jurist who understands the rule of law.”
The support from Heitkamp and Manchin isn’t hard to understand. Both senators are up for reelection next year in states — North Dakota and West Virginia respectively — which President Donald J. Trump won by yuge margins. Nevertheless, their support isn’t likely to deter Senate Minority Leader Schumer’s Democrat filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination.
The Washington Post quotes Schumer as saying, “It’s virtually impossible,” to reach a deal that will avoid the filibuster. In the meantime, as you can see here and here, Schumer is busy tweeting away trying to shift blame for the Senate rule change to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments that the Republicans have promised to make if the Democrats are successful in keeping Gorsuch from getting 60 votes. After Senate Democrats, under Harry Reid’s leadership, actually nuked the filibuster for presidential appointments, except Supreme Court nominees — something Reid said would change the U.S. Senate forever, the Democrats don’t want the blame for diminishing the filibuster again.
According to the Hill, 33 Senate Democrats have come out against Gorsuch’s nomination. That leaves 13 from which Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and company might find the six remaining votes necessary to defeat Schumer’s filibuster. The Hill cites Senators Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Patrick Leahy (Vt.), Ben Cardin (Md.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) as possibilities.
McConnell predicts Gorsuch will get a full Senate vote on April 7.