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Trump's pick for top judge has set US politicians on a collision course

A Supreme Court seat has been open for more than 13 months, since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch testifies on Capitol Hill in Washington.
Image: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

SENATE DEMOCRATS VOWED today to impede Judge Neil Gorsuch’s path to the Supreme Court, setting up a political showdown with implications for future openings on the high court.

Still irate that Republicans blocked President Barack Obama’s nominee, Democrats consider Gorsuch a threat to a wide range of civil rights and think he was too evasive during 20 hours of questioning.

Whatever the objections, Republicans who control the Senate are expected to ensure that President Donald Trump’s pick reaches the bench, perhaps before the middle of April.

The Democratic leader in the Senate, Chuck Schumer of New York, was among five senators to declare their opposition to Gorsuch, even before the Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination had ended.

Schumer said he would lead a filibuster against Gorsuch, criticising him as a judge who “almost instinctively favours the powerful over the weak.” Schumer said the 49-year-old Coloradan would not serve as a check on Trump or be a mainstream justice.

“I have concluded that I cannot support Neil Gorsuch’s nomination,” Schumer said on the Senate floor. “My vote will be no and I urge my colleagues to do the same.”

Partisan

PastedImage-69100 Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch gathers his papers on Capitol Hill. Source: AP Photo/Susan Walsh

White House press secretary Sean Spicer called on Schumer to call off the filibuster, saying “it represents the type of partisanship that Americans have grown tired of.”

A Supreme Court seat has been open for more than 13 months, since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Like Scalia, Gorsuch has a mainly conservative record in more than 10 years as a federal appellate judge.

Shortly before Schumer’s announcement, Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, who faces re-election next year in a state Trump won, also announced his opposition. Casey said he had “serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s rigid and restrictive judicial philosophy, manifest in a number of opinions he has written on the 10th Circuit.”

Democratic Senators Tom Carper of Delaware and Ron Wyden of Oregon, and Senator Bernie Sanders, the Vermont independent, also said they would vote against Trump’s nominee, among at least 11 senators who say they will oppose Gorsuch in the face of pressure from liberals to resist all things Trump, including his nominees.

No Democrat has yet pledged to support Gorsuch, but Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia has said he is open to voting for him.

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Associated Press

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