By Frederick H. Lowe
The U.S. Senate has scheduled a vote this week on the nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, but the National Bar Association, the nation’s largest organization of black attorneys, judges and law students, has urged the Senate to vote against his confirmation.
The NBA Judicial Selection Committee reached its judgment after reviewing Gorsuch’s decisions, writings and speeches, a process which committee members found challenging because Gorsuch has written over 800 opinions and participated in more than 2,750 decisions.
The Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to vote on Gorsuch’s nomination Monday before sending it to the full Senate sometime later this week, where it may face a Democratic filibuster.
The NBA opposes Gorsuch’s nomination because of his lack of fairness in matters related to criminal charges, discrimination, worker’s rights and women’s health cases.
“Notwithstanding Judge Gorsuch’s professional credentials, his judicial philosophy and jurisprudence evidences an extreme, rigid, conservative judicial philosophy with an express disdain for the use of the courts to redress discrimination,” wrote Kevin Judd, NBA’s president. “The NBA recommends strongly that the United States Senate vote against confirmation of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court.”
Gorsuch, 49, is a judge on the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. If confirmed, he would replace Associate Justice Antonin Gregory Scalia, who died in February 2016.
The NBA charged that Gorsuch was not forthcoming during Senate hearings when questioned about his duties while working as a principal deputy associate attorney general at the U.S. Justice Department from 2005 to July 2006, when he was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit.
“This omission of details is extraordinarily significant, because during this period of his employment the Justice Department was found to have improperly engaged in politicized attorney hiring, i. e., based on the human litmus test of the applicant’s anti-civil rights background and perspectives,” the NBA wrote in a letter to Sen. Charles Grassley, the Republican chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the committee’s ranking Democratic member.
The NBA also noted that it is exceedingly troubled by Gorsuch’s decisions, writings and speeches that are biased in favor of powerful corporate interests and unapologetically biased against workers and victims of civil and human rights.
Democrats have vowed to filibuster— not cut off debate on Gorsuch’s nomination—to block his confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Democrats need 41 votes in favor of a filibuster. So far, 36 Democratic senators have said they will support the filibuster. Three Democratic senators oppose it.
In order to end the filibuster, Senate Republicans need 60 votes. Eight Democrats would have to side with Republicans to break the filibuster. Republicans have a 52 t0 48 advantage in the Senate.
Republicans can also change the rules, known as the nuclear option, and confirm Gorsuch’s nomination with 51 votes, a simple majority.
Gorsuch’s nomination has sparked anger among Democrats and some view the filibuster as a chance to pay back Republicans for snubbing President Obama’s nominee.
Senate Republicans, led by Mitch McConnell, the Majority Leader, refused to hold a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court to replace Scalia.