As all eyes in Washington are firmly fixed on the debate over the American Health Care Act, another story has gone almost entirely unnoticed. Senate Democrats are struggling mightily in an effort to stymie the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Politico reported this week that Gorsuch has breezed through some 70 meetings with Senators and, barring the unforeseen at his confirmation hearing next week, may get he 60 votes he needs to avoid a Democrat filibuster:
“There’s a fierce urgency at the grass roots that is not being echoed by the Senate Democrats,” said Ben Wikler, the Washington director for MoveOn, which joined 10 other groups in a letter urging Senate Democrats to, essentially, step it up. “The notion that Democrats should wait until after the hearings to speak their mind is a strategy to win a race by running hard in the last 30 seconds.”
Gorsuch has been studying up for his confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee, which are scheduled to begin Monday and are expected to last several days. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is aiming to hold a floor vote before the Senate leaves for its Easter recess, currently set to begin April 8.
There are several possible reasons why Senate Democrats may be inclined to give Gorsuch a pass onto the court. First, they may not want to force Republicans into changing the rules to require a simple 51 vote majority to confirm. With the possibility that President Trump may have several more nominations before him, it’s likely a precedent Democrats would rather not set. And as Politico reports, Gorsuch wouldn’t change the balance of the court as it existed prior to Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. They may want to hold the filibuster option for President Donald Trump’s next court pick. Finally, liberals have struggled to find anything even close to incendiary in Gorsuch’s judicial record of personal life. That leads us to an email sent out Thursday by Scot Ross of the liberal One Wisconsin Now/One Wisconsin Institute.
Ross’ Frustration was clearly showing as it accused Gorsuch of posting a threat to safe food and drinking water:
He’s sided with CEOs over workers and refused to hold corporations accountable. He can’t be trusted to making sure our air is safe to breathe and our water is safe to drink. He even, literally, put corporations in the bedroom and joined an opinion saying your boss ought to be able to decide if you can have access to birth control through your insurance.
The reference to safe air and water seems to parrot a comment made by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi shortly after Gorsuch’s nomination: “if you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine, or in any other way, interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision.” It’s unclear to what, if any, specific rulings Pelosi and Ross refer. As for Ross’ reference to “your boss ought to be able to decide if you can have access to birth control through your insurance;” that is likely a distorted reference to Gorsuch’s agreement with the Supreme Court’s majority decisions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases. As the Federalist reported:
The question before the court in these cases was whether the Affordable Care Act forced these groups to facilitate insurance coverage for certain life-ending drugs and devices, in violation of their First Amendment conscience rights. In both cases, Gorsuch and a majority of the Supreme Court upheld a long line of precedent respecting the fundamental right of all Americans not to be forced to violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
While much of the media focused on conscience rights and whether people of faith should comply with the law, missing from much of the commentary was a discussion of how some drugs and devices have the capacity to end unborn life and the political calculations that forced such drugs into the Obamacare mandates.
From the very beginning of the litigation over this coercive Health and Human Services mandate, abortion activist groups like Planned Parenthood and NARAL erroneously depicted Hobby Lobby and the nuns of the Little Sisters as anti-birth control and anti-science. This simply is not true.
The email, signed by Scot Ross, urges recipients to call or email Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson and urge him to oppose the Gorsuch nomination. Not only is Johnson highly unlikely to oppose Gorusch; Ross may discover, likely to his and One Wisconsin’s horror, that there are not nearly as many Democrats in the Senate as it believes that will be opposing Gorsuch.