Mainstream media figures and even some Democrats heaped praise this week on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch for his strong legal qualifications and unflappable performance at his confirmation hearing.
On MSNBC, Andrea Mitchell called Gorsuch's hearing a "slam dunk," Joe Scarborough called him "masterful," Willie Geist said his professionalism was unquestionable, and Brian Williams said it was "tough to lay a glove on this guy."
On CNN, Jeffrey Toobin said it was clear Gorsuch knew more about the law than any of the senators asking him questions, Wolf Blitzer praised him as "very knowledgeable," Patrick Healy said he had a "natural command," and Gloria Borger called him "completely qualified and everybody knows it."
Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee grilled Gorsuch during the week over his prior rulings and originalist philosophy, but, in the words of NBC anchor Lester Holt, he proved "very tough for Democrats to rattle." One ABC News reporter said efforts to stop Gorsuch were "scattershot" and "low-intensity."
Democratic lawmakers Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.) and Rep. John Yarmuth (D., Ky.) also had warm words for Gorsuch during television interviews this week, and the American Bar Association gave Gorsuch its highest rating of "well-qualified" to take a seat on the Supreme Court.
Despite the high praise, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) said he would vote against him and vowed to block Gorsuch's nomination, which would necessitate 60 votes in the Senate to defeat a potential filibuster.
Former President Obama's Supreme Court nominees Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan were confirmed with more than 60 votes. According to the Washington Post, President Bush's last nominee, Samuel Alito, was confirmed by a 58-to-42 count in 2006, but it came after 72 senators voted against a filibuster and allowed his confirmation vote to proceed.
Senate Republicans could be forced to use the "nuclear option" to kill the filibuster with a simple majority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) has promised Gorsuch will be confirmed one way or another.
Yarmuth warned against Democratic obstruction if there are not "legitimate concerns" about his judicial temperament, and Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.V.) said the judge should have an up-or-down vote.
Democrats are still fuming about Judge Merrick Garland never getting a hearing after he was put forward last year by Obama to take the place of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. At one point, Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.) became visibly frustrated when Gorsuch declined to discuss the details of Garland's controversial nomination process.