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Moderate Dem Rejects Gorsuch Over ‘Rigid and Restrictive’ Philosophy

Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) shares a laugh with Supreme Court Justice nominee Neil Gorsuch at the beginning of their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington on Feb. 16, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

WASHINGTON – Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.) said he plans to vote against Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, and urged Senate Republican leadership not to change Senate rules pertaining to the nomination.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) is reportedly considering the “nuclear option,” which would only require 51 votes to advance Gorsuch’s nomination.

“I would hope that Republicans, as they consider this broader question, which some people are speculating about changing rules and things like that – there are district court nominations or circuit courts or cabinet nominations that are now not at the 60-vote threshold because of the rule change – I believe the Supreme Court is an entirely different league, so to speak, when you are giving the kind of power that only nine people in our republic have,” Casey said on a conference call with reporters this morning.

“I think it should be a much higher standard, so I hope Republicans would not go in the direction of a rule change on the Supreme Court. I think it would be bad – forget the institution for a minute because that’s important, but I think it would be really bad for the country,” he added.

Casey said he has “serious concerns” about Gorsuch’s “rigid and restrictive” judicial philosophy, arguing that he has demonstrated the “narrowest possible” reading of federal law.

“I don’t think Judge Gorsuch, his judicial approach, would ensure fairness for workers and families in Pennsylvania and indeed across the country, and I will not support his nomination,” he said.

Casey was asked for his reaction to the different tactics Democrats might use to delay the nomination, such as a filibuster that would require Gorsuch to reach 60 votes.

“I’ve heard a lot of different theories about how to proceed, but I just think every member of the U.S. Senate has to engage, I believe, or should engage, in the review I just outlined,” he said, referring to his analysis of past Gorsuch decisions.

Casey cited Gorsuch’s dissent in the TransAm Trucking, Inc. v. Administrative Review Board case.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has suggested that Democrats would attempt to delay the Gorsuch nomination because of the FBI investigation into potential connections between the Trump campaign and Russian officials.

“It is unseemly to be moving forward so fast on confirming a Supreme Court justice with a lifetime appointment while this big gray cloud of an FBI investigation hangs over the presidency,” Schumer said on Tuesday. “You can bet if the shoe were on the other foot and a Democratic president was under investigation by the FBI the Republicans would be howling at the moon about filling a Supreme Court seat in such circumstances.”

Schumer said on the Senate floor this morning that it’s “so clear that, at this moment in our history, our democracy requires a judge who is willing to rule against this president.”

“This administration seems to have little regard for the rule of law and is likely to test the Constitution in ways it hasn’t been challenged for decades,” he said. “It is absolutely the case that this Supreme Court will be tried in ways that few courts have been tested since the earliest days of the republic, when constitutional questions abounded.”

Casey was asked if Democrats should filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, which could prompt Republicans to seek a rule change, or allow his confirmation to go through so the filibuster remains for the next Supreme Court nomination.

“Those discussions are not something I am involved in. They may be going on and they may have some kind of resolution, but I just think I have an obligation to ask the questions I’ve tried to ask in this process on character, temperament, experience, judicial philosophy, specific cases, all of that, and then you come to a decision,” Casey said. “I really don’t have any information about any kind of a deal or an agreement about future votes.”