Several senators announced their opposition to Gorsuch on Monday ahead of a Senate Judiciary Committee vote. The new Gorsuch foes bring the number of Democrats willing to block his nomination to 40 – the number needed to prevent the Senate from ending debate and advancing to a final vote.
Among the latest to come out against Gorsuch were Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., top Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, as well as Sens. Patrick Leahy, of Vermont, and Mark Warner, of Virginia.
“Despite his impressive academic credentials, Judge Gorsuch’s record and evasive responses – even refusing to answer questions regarding his views of cases like Roe v. Wade and Citizens United – do not give me confidence that he possesses a judicial philosophy that will serve the American public well,” Warner said in a statement.
Republican leaders, however, have a way out – they can trigger what’s known as the nuclear option, by changing Senate precedent to advance to a final vote with the support of just 51 senators, as opposed to 60.
Doing so is considered a major change in the way the Senate operates, and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle could take issue with the move.
But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has vowed to confirm Gorsuch one way or the other.
Even as Democrats like Warner voiced support for a filibuster and opposition to the nuclear option, another Democrat on Monday said he would not join his colleagues in the filibuster.
Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet said in a statement that, “Using the filibuster and nuclear option at this moment takes us in the wrong direction. … I will oppose efforts to filibuster the nomination, and strongly encourage my colleagues not to use the nuclear option.”
But with 40 senators willing to oppose Gorsuch and presumably filibuster, a nuclear option showdown is increasingly likely.