Gillibrand Calls for ‘Up-or-Down’ Vote on SCOTUS Nominee


• February 22, 2017 9:27 am


Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (N.Y.) said on Tuesday night that the Senate should hold an up-or-down vote on President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch.

"What is the Democratic strategy on this? There has been a lot made of this. Do you try to filibuster Gorsuch and risk the Republicans going for the so-called nuclear option, which would basically eliminate the filibuster now and forever?" NY1 reporter Bobby Cuza asked Gillibrand. "That seems like an equally bad outcome from the Democrats' perspective."

Gillibrand said she hopes her Democratic colleagues in the Senate will vote their "conscience" and that there will be an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch.

"I hope we do vote him down, but make no mistake, if we do hold the line with 60 votes, Mitch McConnell will change the rules the next day, so it will be Mitch McConnell's decision," Gillibrand said. "I do not have any hope that he will not change the rules the minute he doesn't get his way."

"It will likely be 51 votes regardless at any given time that any nominee is blocked, but I expect our colleagues to vote their conscience and to really look at his record and see if he's the kind of nominee that's worthy of our support," the New York Democrat added.

Gillibrand's call for an up-or-down vote appears to differ from the stated position of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.), who has said Gorsuch should only be confirmed with a filibuster-proof 60-vote majority and that he will block any nominee "out of the mainstream." While Gillibrand has also called for a 60-vote threshold and said she will oppose Gorsuch's nomination because he has a "judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream," Schumer has so far refused to say Trump's nominee should get an up-or-down vote, which would mean a direct "yay" or "nay" vote on Gorsuch without any obstruction.

Schumer wrote an op-ed in the New York Times earlier this month that was critical of Trump's Supreme Court nominee.

As I sat with Judge Gorsuch, a disconcerting feeling came over me that I had been through this before–and I soon realized I had, with Judge John G. Roberts Jr. He was similarly charming, polished, and erudite. Like Neil Gorsuch, he played the part of a model jurist. And just like Neil Gorsuch, he asserted his independence, claiming to be a judge who simply called "balls and strikes," unbiased by both ideology and politics.

When Judge Roberts became Justice Roberts, we learned that we had been duped by an activist judge. The Roberts court systematically and almost immediately shifted to the right.

Gillibrand's call for an up-or-down vote also sets her apart from several Senate Democrats who have vowed to block a confirmation vote if necessary. Her position, however, aligns with at least two of her Democratic colleagues, Sen. Joe Manchin (D., W.Va.), who has vocally promised not to filibuster Gorsuch but meet with him to learn more about his background, and Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.), who has also called for an up-or-down vote.

"If Republicans did something [by not holding a vote on President Obama's nominee] and now Democrats are going to do something, two wrongs don't make a right," Manchin said earlier this month.

UPDATE 1:17 P.M.: This post was updated to more accurately reflect Sen. Gillibrand's position on Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination. The story originally portrayed Gillibrand's position on a 60-vote threshold in the Senate as different than Sen. Chuck Schumer's view. After a spokesman in Gillibrand's office clarified her position, this article was updated accordingly.