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Bernie Sanders Attacks Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court Standoff Approaches

Bernie Sanders weighs in about Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch from the Senate floor Tuesday. (Sen. Bernie Sanders / Facebook)
Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

By Deirdre Fulton / Common Dreams

The standoff over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, deepened Tuesday with a “vicious take-down” on the Senate floor by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), threats from the top Senate Republican, and salvos from people-powered campaigns around the country.

Gorsuch, who was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee along party lines on Monday, faces a Democratic filibuster.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Tuesday that Democrats were “hurtling toward the abyss” and that a vote on the so-called “nuclear option”—which would rewrite chamber rules to eliminate the 60-vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees and allow the reigning party to confirm Gorsuch with a simple majority, or 51 votes—would take place Thursday. McConnell and other GOP leaders have vowed Gorsuch will be confirmed Friday, before the Senate goes on a two-week recess.

But opponents, like Sanders, aren’t backing down. On the Senate floor Tuesday afternoon, the Vermont senator outlined his reasons for voting against Gorsuch, including his record on big money in politics and his apparently callous regard for workers’ rights.

Watch below:

Sanders also outlined his major points of opposition in a series of tweets:

To that end, the Progressive Change Campaign Committee (PCCC) is launching newspaper ads to pressure what it calls “the top three vulnerable Republicans in the Senate” to vote against the nuclear option. The ads target Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

“Gorsuch doesn’t have the votes to get on the Supreme Court because he sides with big corporations over workers,” the ads read in part. “So why is Senator Ted Cruz trying to change the rules to get Gorsuch onto the Court?”

The PCCC is optimistic that its campaign has the leverage to succeed. “Forty-one senators supporting the filibuster is proof that progressive organizing is succeeding—Democratic senators are being rewarded for fighting Trump’s agenda that favors big corporations over workers,” said PCCC co-founder Adam Green. “After running ads in Democratic states to get this far, we’re now taking aim at vulnerable Republicans and creating political consequences if they favor changing rules to force onto the court someone who puts big corporations over working families.”

Elsewhere in the country, groups including MoveOn.org and UltraViolet are rebuking caucus members who did not join the filibuster. Sens. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and Angus King (I-Maine) were both the recipients on Tuesday of “life-sized spines” meant to represent the lawmakers’ lack thereof.

“Sen. Bennet just chose Donald Trump over the people of Colorado,” said Murshed Zaheed, political director for CREDO, which was involved in the Colorado action. “A vote to side with Republicans and advance Gorsuch’s confirmation will tarnish Sen. Bennet’s reputation for the rest of his career.”

(Bennet is also facing pressure from pro-Gorsuch forces like the National Rifle Association.)

Of the delivery in Maine, UltraViolet co-founder Shaunna Thomas explained: “Gorsuch would be one of the most extreme justices on the Supreme Court and a disaster for women, LGBTQ people, immigrants, people with disabilities, and working people. With 41 senators now opposed to Gorusch’s nomination, Republicans are threatening to radically change the Senate rules to force the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the bench, undoubtedly allowing the Trump administration to run amok. Senator King needs to show that he has a spine and stand with 41 other senators in opposing Republican attacks on women and our democracy through the nomination of Neil Gorsuch. Now is the time for courageous honesty, Senator King—our future depends on it.”

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