WASHINGTON, D.C., April 3, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11 to 9 today to advance Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court.
The full U.S. Senate is expected to vote on Gorsuch's confirmation on Thursday. Democrats have vowed to filibuster Gorsuch, meaning Republicans may have to change Senate rules to allow Gorsuch to be confirmed with 51 rather than 60 votes. There has never before been a successful partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in the Senate.
The Senate Judiciary Committee's vote was along party lines.
Committee Chairman Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-IA, stressed during his open statement that Gorsuch is mainstream and fair.
“Even Rachel Maddow said …'the judge is a fairly mainstream choice that you might expect from any Republican president,'” Grassley recalled.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA, complained about the “dark money” supporting Gorsuch's nomination. She gave a lengthy speech about various concerns she holds on confirming Gorsuch, such as unanswered questions about where he stands on affirmative action and torture.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-VT, fretted about how Gorsuch wouldn't comment on women and contraception or explicitly say that Roe v. Wade is “settled law.”
“I will vote for [Gorsuch] with a very clear conscience,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC. He called it “a bit of a stretch” and “quite frankly, unfair to the judge” to suggest Gorsuch doesn't support Griswold v. Connecticut, which says married couples have a right to use contraception.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-TX, suggested the 2016 presidential election was a “referendum” on replacing the late Justice Scalia's Supreme Court seat. He blasted Democrats for promising to filibuster Gorsuch, noting a “litany of liberals” have expressed their support for his nomination.
Throughout his more than 20 hours of confirmation hearings, Gorsuch refused to say how he would rule in future cases, or what his personal opinion of current precedent is. However, he explained why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects Hobby Lobby's owners from being forced by the government to violate their consciences.
Gorsuch also said same-sex “marriage” is “absolutely settled law.”
Gorsuch's nomination would lead to “women wondering how long they will have autonomy over their healthcare decisions” and same-sex couples wondering about the legal statuses of their unions, said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-CT,
Gorsuch promised Graham he will consider the facts if a 20-week abortion ban reaches the Supreme Court. He didn't offer his personal opinion on either of the issues.
“I can assure you, the rights of the unborn have not been settled,” Graham said this morning.
Of particular concern to abortion supporters was a line Gorsuch wrote in The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: “the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Feinstein said, “This language has been interpreted by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations to mean he would overturn Roe.”
Feinstein also questioned Gorsuch on California’s End of Life Option Act, which allows assisted suicide. He wouldn't say how he would rule on it.
Gorsuch told Sen. Chris Coons, D-DE, that one of his concerns with assisted suicide and euthanasia was that the poor and the elderly would be pressured into early deaths.
“We can’t allow someone who spreads these ridiculous fallacies to take a seat on the Court,” Jessica Grennan of the pro-assisted suicide group Compassion and Choices wrote in a fundraising email.
Planned Parenthood, America's largest abortion provider, is also strongly opposed to Gorsuch's nomination.
A lengthy analysis of what pro-life and pro-family advocates can expect from Gorsuch is available here.