The Senate Minority Leader, Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, and one of his colleagues have pledged to vote against the confirmation of federal judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court (SCOTUS).
Schumer has also signaled that his Democratic colleagues will mount a filibuster against Gorsuch's confirmation. This could prompt the Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, to deploy the so-called nuclear option that would change the threshold for overcoming a filibuster from 60 votes to 51 votes.
On March 23, Schumer announced his decision to vote against Gorsuch on the Senate floor.
"After careful deliberation I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court," Schumer said, according to ABC News. "His nomination will have a cloture vote, he will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation."
Schumer added that Gorsuch had not convinced him that he was a mainstream judge who would not make decisions based on partisan dogma, and called for a more moderate nominee.
"To my Republican friends... If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama's nominees, and President Bush's last two nominees, the answer isn't to change the rules -- it's to change the nominee," Schumer concluded.
Meanwhile, Democratic Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania announced that he too would oppose Gorsuch's confirmation.
"I have serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch's rigid and judicial philosophy," Casey said, according to The Washington Times.
The Pennsylvania Democrat cited two of Gorsuch's previous court decisions: one where he had ruled against an autistic student who had sought to have the public school system help pay for special education and another where ruled in favor of a business firing a truck driver who had abandoned his vehicle amid fears that it was unsafe and that he would freeze to death.
On March 22, Gorsuch's ruling in the case of the autistic child was overturned by SCOTUS.
Schumer concurred with Casey's assessment of the federal judge's record, stating, "We do not want judges with ice water in their veins."
On March 22, roughly six anonymous Senate Democrats told Politico that they were considering reaching out to several of their GOP colleagues to cut a deal: they would help confirm Gorsuch if the Republican leadership promises not to change the filibuster rule in future SCOTUS appointments.
Based on Schumer's latest statement, the Democratic leadership would not consent to such an arrangement.
The chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, has dismissed any potential of a deal, asserting that Democrats had set the precedent of a nuclear option by weakening filibuster rules for lower court appointments in 2013, when GOP lawmakers repeatedly filibustered former President Barack Obama's judicial nominees.
"Considering what happened four years ago, and considering what could happen again if they were in the majority, I don't think they're in a position to make a deal," Grassley said.
On March 23, the Senate Judiciary Committee will host 28 outside witnesses to argue in favor of or against Gorsuch's confirmation. One witness who will testify in favor is senior Judge John Kane, a colleague of Gorsuch's from Colorado, CNN reports.
Among the witnesses who will testify against Gorsuch is Jeff Perkins, the father of the autistic child whom the federal judge had ruled against.