On Wednesday, April 5, Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley delivered a 15 hour speech against Neil Gorsuch.
The filibuster did not impact the outcome of Gorsuch’s nomination.
“I’m here on the floor at 4:20 in the morning,” Merkley stated 10 hours into his speech, “because so much is at stake.”
Senator Merkley highlighted the fact that Republicans refused to accept Barack Obama’s judicial nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland. Garland was supposed to fill a vacancy that Justice Antonin Scalia left after his death. Last year, Republicans ensured that he would not be the new judicial incumbent.
“The majority team in this chamber decided to steal a Supreme Court seat,” Merkley said. “Such a theft never, ever has happened in the history of our nation.”
According to Roll Call, Merkley’s speech was the 8 longest in the Senate since 1990. He began speaking at 6:46 p.m. but did not eat or sit down until 10:15 a.m.
“In the infamous Hobby Lobby decision, Gorsuch embraced the disturbing philosophy that corporations are people,” Merkley said. “Then he extended that philosophy to say that corporations should be able to impose their owners’ religious views on their employees’ medical care — preventing women from accessing contraception through their insurance plans.”
Democrats are very reluctant to approve Gorsuch due to his extremely conservative ideology.
“We believe that, what Republicans did to Merrick Garland was worse than a filibuster,” Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said.
However, not all party leaders are opposed to Gorsuch’s nomination. Republican Senator of Nevada Dean Heller, believes that Gorsuch is overqualified for the judicial position.
“Judge Gorsuch is not only an exceptionally qualified candidate given his education and experience, but he is also a fellow Westerner who understands our values and the unique issues — ranging from water to energy — that are important to us,” Heller said. “A Western perspective will serve the people of Nevada and the Supreme Court well, and I’ll work with my colleagues to ensure that Judge Gorsuch is confirmed to serve on our nation’s highest court.”
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto disagreed with this description, saying that Gorsuch failed to meet with her, even after she had asked.
“The U.S. Constitution has entrusted the Senate with the role of advising the president on the highest court of the land and in refusing to meet with me,” Masto said. “He has disrespected our nation’s founding principles and pillars core to our democratic institutions.”
Gorsuch’s spokeswoman Liz Johnson defended the nominee, saying that he did reach out and attempt to arrange a meeting date.
“In early February, the White House nominations team reached out to Sen. Cortez Masto requesting a meeting be scheduled,” Johnson stated in a press release. “The judge was more than willing to meet with the senator, and both sides have been trying to find a mutually agreeable date that would work.”
Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte agreed with Liz Johnson’s assessment of Gorsuch, saying that he met with 80 Senators.
“I can tell you that we reached out to Senator Cortez Masto in early February and we’ve been trying to come up with a mutually convenient time, but obviously the judge had hearings and everything else,” Ayotte said in a released statement. “We were doing meetings as late as last week as well. So no one’s been rebuffed and the judge has made every effort, and gone to almost 80 senators, so I don’t think that that characterization is accurate.”
Las Vegas held a protest against Gorsuch, lead by activists from the Sierra Club Nevada, NARAL Pro-Choice Nevada, and End Citizens United.
End Citizens United Executive Director Tiffany Muller expressed her feelings against Gorsuch. She opined that his comparison of human beings to corporations was concerning.
“We know that 78 percent of Americans disagree with the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision and want to see a justice on the bench that would actually reverse it, not keep it in place and expand it like Gorsuch would do,” Muller stated at the Vegas protest.. “We are sending a message to the entire Senate, and here in Las Vegas particularly to Sen. Heller, to vote no on Neil Gorsuch.”
Other protests against Gorsuch took place in San Francisco, New York City, Seattle, Milwaukee, Denver, and Chicago.
“We cannot and will not settle for a Supreme Court justice who will simply be a mouthpiece for Donald Trump,” city Controller Scott Stringer told protesters in New York.
Secretary-treasurer of the Washington State Labor Council Lynne Dodson, attended a boisterous protest in Seattle.
“We need a Supreme Court justice who’ll defend the rights of working people,” Dodson stated.