Ahead of Thursday’s farcical vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to a stolen Supreme Court seat, for which Judge Gorsuch will forever be tainted by illegitimacy, Sen. Jeff Merkley held the Senate floor for more than 15 hours to protest Judge Gorsuch:
Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., took to the Senate floor a few minutes before 7 p.m. Tuesday night to protest President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, vowing to speak “as long as I’m able.”
He did so for more than 15 hours, yielding the floor shortly after 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Merkley mounted his demonstration in response to Republicans who refused to consider former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, following the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
“The majority team in this chamber decided to steal a Supreme Court seat,” he said. “Such a theft has never, ever happened in the history of our nation.”
Republicans argued that neither party should fill a Supreme Court vacancy that opened up during an election year.
Barbara A. Perry, the Miller Professor of Ethics and Institutions and director of presidential studies at U-Va.’s Miller Center: One-third of all U.S. presidents appointed a Supreme Court justice in an election year. Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog, Supreme Court vacancies in presidential election years: There is no “practice of leaving a seat open on the Supreme Court until after the election.”
“It was a warfare tactic [a “blockade“] of partisanship,” Merkley said. “It was an end justifies the means, even if the means violates the core premise of the Constitution.”
In January, after Trump announced Gorsuch as his Supreme Court nominee, Merkley released a scathing statement: promising to “do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court.”
“The most fundamental thing that must be understood about tonight’s announcement is that this is a stolen seat. This is the first time in American history that one party has blockaded a nominee for almost a year in order to deliver a seat to a President of their own party. If this tactic is rewarded rather than resisted, it will set a dangerous new precedent in American governance.
“This strategy of packing the court, if successful, could threaten fundamental rights in America, including workers’ right to organize, women’s reproductive rights, and the rights of ordinary citizens to have their voices heard in elections rather than being drowned out by the corrupting influence of dark money from the richest Americans.
“If President Trump were serious about healing the divisions in America and undoing the damage wrought by Senate Republicans last year, he could have named Merrick Garland to fill this seat. Garland is a centrist jurist who is respected on both sides of the aisle. Instead, he doubled down on division by picking an ideological and extreme nominee to satisfy the far right.
“This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the Court.”
On the Senate floor, Merkley highlighted several issues Democrats have raised about Gorsuch, including the Colorado jurist’s history of siding with corporations and his “extreme, far-right, anti-women, anti-worker record.”
Analysis: Neil Gorsuch could be the most conservative justice on the Supreme Court: “Gorsuch’s actual voting behavior suggests that he is to the right of both Alito and Thomas, and by a substantial margin.”
Merkley also argued that until the investigation into the Trump campaign’s possible ties to Russia is complete, a vote on Gorsuch is premature.
The Oregon senator even said Trump should withdraw the Gorsuch nomination and renominate Garland.
Roll Call reports that as Senator Merkley spoke past midnight, Politico and BuzzFeed published stories late Tuesday night that show several passages from Gorsuch’s 2006 book on euthanasia “read nearly verbatim to a 1984 article in the Indiana Law Journal,” among other instances [i.e., plagiarism]. Assessments from experts on academic integrity ranged “from calling it a clear impropriety to mere sloppiness,” the report said.
This gave Merkley another argument against cloture. “Maybe that [cloture] motion should be withdrawn given that there’s more information now to analyze,” he said.
It was all for naught, of course. Authoritarian Tea-Publicans are in control and they will have their stolen Supreme Court seat today, completing their crime against democracy by any means necessary.