Senators Richard Blumenthal LAW ’73, D-Conn., and Chris Murphy, D-Conn., last week joined the growing band of Democrats prepared to filibuster the confirmation vote of Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.
Murphy issued a statement on Tuesday announcing his opposition to Gorsuch’s confirmation. In an op-ed published in the Hartford Courant just three days later, Blumenthal followed suit, expressing his readiness to resort to the filibuster if necessary. The two senators also held a press conference in Hartford on Friday to discuss the confirmation battle.
In his op-ed that morning, Blumenthal called the vote on Gorsuch’s confirmation “one of the most important votes I will ever cast.”
“The Supreme Court is more than marble pillars and judicial robes,” Blumenthal wrote. “Its decisions must ensure that the rule of law is preserved for real people, and that our Constitution continues to protect us from overreach and tyranny. That is why it is important that a nominee to the Supreme Court be approved by more than 60 votes, not a razor-thin partisan majority.”
Both senators met with Gorsuch in the last two months, and Blumenthal, a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, had the opportunity to question Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing.
In his Friday op-ed, Blumenthal criticized Gorsuch for dodging questions during the hearing. For Blumenthal, Gorsuch’s equivocations have left Americans with substantial doubt about his position.
“That doubt leaves women wondering how long they will have autonomy over their health care decisions, same-sex couples questioning whether they might be denied the right to marry the person they love, workers and consumers doubting their rights, and Americans fearing the court will abandon protections of privacy, equality and the rule of law,” he wrote. “That doubt is why I cannot support this nomination, and why I will work to block it using every tool at my disposal.”
Murphy, too, voiced concerns that Gorsuch is beholden to special interests and will allow politics to influence his rulings.
In his Tuesday statement, Murphy pointed to Gorsuch’s past rulings on questions of workers’ rights, religious freedom and personal health care choices as evidence of how he poses a threat to citizen’s rights.
“I am concerned by Judge Gorsuch’s record of putting corporate interests before the public interest,” he said. “While he admirably claims to rest his decision on the law rather than on political views, his consistent support for the powerful over the powerless does not seem coincidental.”
Murphy will join activists in Hartford on Monday to outline how confirming Gorsuch could “flood campaigns with dark money.”
According to The New York Times, 36 Democrats have said they would support a filibuster, while three have come out in opposition. To mount a successful filibuster, Democrats will need 41 total votes — or at least five of the nine undecided Democratic votes, assuming no Republicans vote no.
If Senate Democrats rally those votes, Republicans could exercise the so-called nuclear option, eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court confirmation votes and thus allowing Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority.
Although he has not committed to doing so, Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has suggested he would invoke the nuclear option if Democrats filibuster.
Still, according to J.R. Romano, the chairman of the Connecticut Republican Party, Blumenthal and Murphy are simply using the filibuster to raise money and draw attention.
“Neil Gorsuch is someone who the last time he went through [a confirmation process] had high praise from all sides of the aisle, and it’s very apparent that [threats to filibuster are] simply an attempt at political theater,” he said. “Blumenthal and Murphy have no interest in doing what’s best for the country or in bringing us all together. They want to keep the country divided, and listening to their rhetoric, you can tell that without a doubt.”
Like McConnell, Romano stopped short of fully endorsing the nuclear option. Instead, he downplayed the importance of the confirmation battle, saying that he thinks most Americans wouldn’t rank filling the court’s vacancy as one of the 10 issues most important to them.
The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote Monday on whether to advance Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Senate floor.