Democrats threaten delay on Supreme Court nominee

That means Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., will have to round up 60 votes to proceed to a confirmation vote, including eight Democrats.

Schumer's remarks raise the probability of a potential democratic filibuster and a chance Republicans could try and change senate rules in order to confirm Gorsuch. In fact, Republicans could have filed cloture, requiring a 60-vote threshold that could have very well jeopardized their confirmations.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Schumer said: "If this nominee can not earn 60 votes - a bar met by each of President Obama's nominees and George Bush's last two nominees - the answer isn't to change the rules".

Progressive groups have been urging Democrats to uniformly oppose all of Trump's nominees.

Pennsylvania Republican Senator Pat Toomey has praised Gorsuch in the past. They cited his sympathy and respect for litigants and rulings to protect the rights of religious minorities and prisoners.

The Gorsuch nomination appears headed for a filibuster showdown that could lead Republicans controlling the Senate to change the chamber's rules to confirm Gorsuch.

As Wednesday's hearing began, Grassley raised an opinion Gorsuch had written related to special education programs at public schools.

Democrats creating the expectation that judges should act as politicians in robes is a risky precedent to set, threatening the very independence of the judiciary. Samuel Alito Jr., chosen by President George W. Bush, was confirmed 58-42 in 2006, but 72 senators voted to defeat a possible filibuster and allow his confirmation vote to go forward.

If Gorsuch is confirmed, he would tip the U.S. high court's balance toward conservatives, at a time when progressives are anxious over hot-button issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage and the right to bear arms. Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, refused repeated attempts to get him to talk about key legal and political issues of the day.

The American Bar Association's Nancy Scott Degan explained how a committee evaluating Gorsuch came up with its highest rating of well qualified.

Democrats also took another opportunity to voice their displeasure at how Republicans kept Judge Merrick Garland, Obama's choice for the same seat, off the court. Sen.

Gorsuch said he was bound by an even earlier decision on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and said that any implication that he was against autistic children was "heartbreaking".

The Gorsuch nomination has put Democrats in an excruciatingly hard position.

"Judge Gorsuch was unable to sufficiently convince me that he'd be an independent check on a president who has shown nearly no restraint from executive overreach", Schumer said.

Another vote potentially up for grabs is that of Michael Bennet, a Democrat from Gorsuch's home state of Colorado.

Much of the Democratic resistance to Gorsuch centers on the GOP's decision previous year to block consideration of Judge Merrick Garland, Obama's choice to replace Scalia.

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