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Schumer: Democrats will filibuster SCOTUS nominee Neil Gorsuch

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday morning that he would not vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. "My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same," Schumer said. (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced Thursday that Senate Democrats plan to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination.

Speaking from the Senate floor Thursday morning, Schumer announced that he would not vote for Gorsuch's confirmation and said Democrats will demand that he receive at least 60 votes in order to be confirmed to the highest federal court.

"After careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court," Schumer said. "His nomination will have a cloture vote. He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation. My vote will be no, and I urge my colleagues to do the same."

Should Gorsuch fail to garner 60 votes, the Minority Leader said, "the answer isn't to change the rules — it's to change the nominee."

Schumer said he's reviewed Gorsuch's record and criticized his "lack of candor and desire to answer" questions posed by the Senate Judiciary Committee during his confirmation hearing this week.

"Judge Gorsuch was not able to convince me that he would be an independent check on a president who has shown almost no restraint from executive overreach," Schumer said. "He was unable to convince me that he would be a mainstream justice who could rule free from the biases of politics and ideology."

Schumer added that Gorsuch's record shows he has a "deep-seated conservative ideology" and "groomed by the Federalist Society," a conservative nonprofit legal organization.

"He is someone who almost instinctively favors the powerful over the weak, corporations over working Americans," Schumer continued. "There could not be a worse time for someone with those instincts."

Schumer has longed warned that Democrats would block President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, often citing a judge's view on Roe v. Wade and abortion issues as a potential catalyst to a block.

"They have to follow the law," Shumer told the Huffington Post in January regarding Supreme Court picks. "For instance, Roe v. Wade has been the law for a long time. If these people want to just repeal and rip out Roe v. Wade — you have to look at the whole picture."

"I'm not going to have a litmus test. But that would be an indication," Schumer said at the time.

During his confirmation hearing, Gorsuch stressed that Roe v. Wade, the 1973 landmark Supreme Court case that legalized abortion, is the "law of the land" and is a "precedent of the United States Supreme Court" multiple times.

Gorsuch also said he would have "walked out the door" if Trump would have asked him specifically to repeal the controversial decision.

However, Gorsuch declined to reveal if he would uphold the decision.

As TheBlaze previously reported, anti-abortion groups have heralded Gorsuch as Trump's pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court — even though Gorsuch has never directly ruled on the issue.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the lobbying arm of the nation's leading abortion provider, encourages senators to vote no on Gorsuch as it says he "must be held accountable for his history of interfering with reproductive rights and health, including access to birth control."

Pennsylvania Sen. Robert Casey (D) also announced Thursday that he would not be vote for Gorsuch's confirmation in a lengthy blog post on the website Medium.

Casey said, in part:

After considering his nomination seriously and without pre-judgement, and mindful of the awesome responsibility of passing judgement on nominees to the highest court in the nation, I do not believe Judge Gorsuch’s judicial approach will ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania. We cannot demand perfection from Supreme Court justices. But we can demand a constant commitment to fairness, to protecting all Americans regardless of power or wealth, to that guiding creed: equal justice under law. I have concluded that Judge Gorsuch is not the right choice to fulfill this commitment. I will not support his nomination.

Casey accused Gorsuch of putting "powerful interests" above "ordinary Americans" in his decisions. He also said Gorsuch has a "particularly troubling record when it comes to enforcing legal protections for individuals, particularly students, with disabilities."

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a former 2016 presidential hopeful, announced Thursday that he will oppose Gorsuch as well — and slammed the judge for "refus to answer legitimate questions and  the confirmation process to a new low in a thick fog of evasion."

"After careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s record, I have concluded that I will not vote to confirm him to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and I will not support Republican efforts to change the rules to choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate," Sanders said in a statement Thursday afternoon.

He added:

Americans deserve a Supreme Court justice who respects the rights of workers to be treated fairly instead of bowing to big business. We cannot stand by while the court dismantles the Voting Rights Act and lets cowards in statehouses erect roadblocks to voting. We must keep campaigns free of the corrupting influence of big money and not go further down the dangerous path that began with the disastrous Citizens United ruling. We cannot risk a court that would put in jeopardy the privacy rights of all Americans and a woman's right to control her body.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) has promised to oppose anyone who Trump picked to fill the vacant seat. Merkley said in January that the vacant seat was "stolen" from former President Barack Obama's pick, Merrick Garland.

"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," Merkley said then.

In order to be confirmed to the Supreme Court, a nominee needs a simple majority in the Senate. But a filibuster can occur if 60 senators do not vote to keep the nomination alive.

The Senate has 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents.

It is unclear if Democrats have enough no votes to block Gorsuch from reaching the 60 threshold — especially as some Democrats are facing re-elections in tough districts.

Both of Obama's Supreme Court appointees — Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor — received more than 60 votes each. Justice Samuel Alito only received 58 votes, but 72 senators later voted to defeat a filibuster.

Alito was the last Supreme Court Justice who faced a cloture vote in order to be confirmed.

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