Though Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch has effectively flown through his Senate confirmation hearings, the 10th Circuit Court judge might temporarily have his wings clipped by Senate Democrats.
Thursday, Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) outright said, “He will have to earn 60 votes for confirmation,” signaling that Democratic leadership is preparing to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination.
Such a move would require at least 60 senators to vote to end debate and proceed to a confirmation vote. 60 would be a difficult number for Senate Republicans to hit unless they siphoned off moderate Democrats such as Joe Manchin (W. Va.), or if they changed long-standing Senate rules about the filibuster and confirmed Gorsuch with a simple majority.
Sen. Schumer noted that all of the George W. Bush and Barack Obama SCOTUS appointees hit the 60-vote threshold and that if the nominee can’t reach that total, “The answer isn’t to change the rules. It’s to change the nominee.”
While Schumer’s pronouncement sounds good on paper to Democrats and is red meat for the base, it’s still not certain a filibuster can hold. Sens. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) and Robert Casey (D-Pa.) have said they will block the nomination, but other Democratic senators, such as the aforementioned Sen. Manchin, have given incredibly mixed signals. Manchin has demanded Senate Democrats “give the man a chance,” but has also said Gorsuch should have to clear the 60-vote threshold.
Republicans are looking to get Gorsuch a full vote by April 3, but that date could come and go if Democrats in the Senate fully entrench themselves in this filibuster.