Newspaper Editiorials Pan Democrats' Attempt to Filibuster Gorsuch, Encourage Confirmation

Neil Gorsuch
Neil Gorsuch / AP
April 3, 2017

Several major mainstream newspapers have published editorials encouraging President Trump's Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch, to be confirmed while criticizing Senate Democrats' efforts to filibuster his nomination.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) is trying to rally 40 Democrats to join him in voting no on a cloture vote to prevent Gorsuch from getting an up-or-down vote for confirmation. Red-state Democratic Sens. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) and Jon Tester (D., Mont.) have announced they will try to block Gorsuch, a constitutional originalist who the American Bar Association rated "well qualified" for the high court.

Still, Senate Republicans are confident, saying they will invoke the so-called "nuclear option" to stop a filibuster and allow Gorsuch's confirmation vote to go before the full Senate. There, he is essentially guaranteed to be confirmed with Republicans holding the majority.

USA Today wrote in favor of Gorsuch's confirmation on Sunday. Despite the judge being too far to the right on some issues for the newspaper's taste, it said he was within the mainstream and possessed "impeccable" credentials. The national newspaper also praised Gorsuch's consistent rulings on religious freedom for both businesses and individuals.

The left-leaning New York Daily News published an editorial endorsing Gorsuch that called him a "rigorous judicial practitioner with respect for the legislative process and for precedent." Like USA Today, the piece scolded Republicans for not granting a hearing in 2016 to former President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, to fill the late Justice Antonin Scalia's seat.

The Miami Herald came out with an editorial on Feb. 2 admonishing Democrats to not filibuster, praising Gorsuch as a "fine selection" for his background and independence. The Dallas Morning NewsSan Antonio Express-News, and Tulsa World also penned editorials stating Democrats should not filibuster Gorsuch.

Columns in The Daily Beast, Bloomberg, The Week, The Hill, Cleveland Plain-DealerThe Tennessean, and Sarasota Herald-Tribune have made the same case.

Four Democrats thus far have announced they will not filibuster the judge. If four more join their ranks, then the filibuster attempt will fail because the 60 vote-threshold for cloture will be met.

The Chicago Tribune praised Gorsuch in its editorial for showing his critics that he will follow the law. The Illinois-based paper took its own representative to task, Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), for his attempt to trap Gorsuch over one of his rulings about a truck driver who drove away from his load on a dangerously cold night:

Gorsuch then schooled Durbin: "My job is to apply the law as written. The law said he would be protected if he refused to operate. By any plain understanding, he operated the vehicle. And if Congress wishes to revise the law–I wrote this: I said it was an unkind decision, it might have been a wrong decision, a bad decision, but my job isn't to write the law, senator, it's to apply the law. And if Congress passes a law saying a trucker in those circumstances gets to choose how to operate his vehicle, I will be the first in line to enforce it."

Durbin has joined the Democratic filibuster attempt, but the editorial concluded Gorsuch should be confirmed.

Not all newspapers, of course, are on board, mainly because of Republicans in 2016 not holding a hearing for Garland.  The day of Gorsuch's nomination, the New York Times lamented the "very conservative" Gorsuch potentially taking the "stolen seat" of Garland.

On the first day of Gorsuch's widely praised confirmation hearings, the New York Times said an attempted filibuster by Democrats would be "an understandable reaction."