Smooth Sailing? Liberals’ Opposition to Gorsuch Weak

(Quin Hillyer, Liberty Headlines) Numerous reports indicate that Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will experience relatively smooth sailing towards Senate confirmation.

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With the Senate Judiciary Committee opening its hearings on Monday to consider his nomination, Politico reports that Democrats still have no clear strategy to defeat – or even significantly delay – his confirmation. Meanwhile legal and political eminences by the score – from all across the political spectrum – line up to support Gorsuch, and conservative defenders rebut criticisms again him, discouraging opponents more with every passing day.

Politico’s headline describes Senate Democrats as strategically and tactically “paralyzed” by the widespread positive response Gorsuch has received. It’s not just that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) “hasn’t begun whipping hard against Gorsuch,” but “the sole strategic decision the Democratic Caucus has made about Gorsuch ahead of his confirmation hearings is to make no decision at all.”

Politico adds that left-wing groups aren’t happy with the reticence:

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“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.”

A large part of the Senate Democrats’ dilemma is that Gorsuch seems to have charmed just about everybody he has ever worked with, including numerous liberals with whom he’s maintained respectful and friendly relations, even while opposing them philosophically. At National Review Online, Ed Whelan of the Ethics and Public Policy Center provides virtually one-stop shopping for anybody wishing to follow the nominee’s momentum towards confirmation.

Whelan reported last weekend that 31 distinguished members of the Supreme Court bar – who together have argued more than 500 cases before the nation’s highest court (for just 31 lawyers, that’s a very large number of such cases) – signed a letter expressing “strong support” for Gorsuch’s nomination.

The letter’s key paragraph:

Fairminded, dedicated, smart, and unfailingly polite, Judge Gorsuch is someone all of us would be pleased to appear before. He is principled in his approach to the law, but also keenly aware of practical consequences. He is a thoroughly kind and decent person. Respectful of colleagues and counsel alike, Judge Gorsuch has the unusual combination of character, dedication, and intellect that would make him an asset to our Nation’s highest court.

The signers included not only noted conservatives Miguel Estrada, Peter Keisler, and Michael Carvin (the first two of them former nominees defeated by Democratic filibusters), but also those Whelan describes as “prominent liberal signatories” includ[ing] former Stanford law school dean Kathleen M. Sullivan, Clinton Justice Department veteran David C. Frederick, and Lisa Blatt.

They join such previously announced liberal luminaries as former Obama administration solicitor general Neal Katyal and former NBC News anchor Tom Brokaw in singing Gorsuch’s praises, with the latter saying his non-conservative sources assert that “there is not a better judge in the federal circuit right now than him.”

More than 50 of Gorsuch’s former Harvard classmates – again from across the political spectrum – also have written in his support, as have every one of his former law clerks.

And the list of Gorsuch’s supporters goes on and on.

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported Monday that leftist groups are scrambling to accuse Gorsuch of being “no friend to the little guy” – supposedly against “workers’ rights” and insufficiently opposed to “big money in politics.” But the ammunition against Gorsuch is so skimpy that many Democrats may try “to make the nomination as much a referendum on Mr. Trump as Judge Gorsuch.” The Times also noted that several cases show Gorsuch siding with, not against, workers, “including sexual harassment claims and black-lung benefits for retired miners.”

Even on the three cases most often cited by critics that supposedly show Gorsuch disfavoring the little guy, NRO’s Whelan provided a ready answer. Writing that those three are thin gruel from amidst the many thousands of cases Gorsuch has decided (not one of his which, by the way, has ever been reversed by the Supreme Court), Whelan noted that in two of the three cases, Gorsuch wrote for unanimous panels that each time included a “very liberal Clinton appointee.” In other words, Whelan says it is almost impossible to fault Gorsuch for somehow dismissing the cases of “little guys” that even liberal judges say were too legally weak to stand.

Bearing out Whelan’s contention that these few cases show no fault on Gorsuch’s part, the American Bar Association’s review panel unanimously gave Gorsuch its highest possible professional rating.

No wonder that Politico reports that at least within the Senate walls, “Democrats can’t seem to land a punch on Neil Gorsuch — and it’s not even clear they want to.”