By Clare Foran
The Senate kicks off its formal vetting process of President Trump’s Supreme Court pick in public view on Monday with a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on the nomination of conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the high court. That will mark a departure from the treatment that Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s nominee to fill the same Supreme Court seat, faced in Congress last year when Senate Republicans broke with tradition by refusing to hold even a single hearing to consider the nomination.
Even if Democrats wanted to, the party can’t mount the same kind of all-out opposition to Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. The most glaring reason is that Democrats don’t control the Senate, and Republicans have the power to set the hearing agenda. Still, Democrats could be putting up more of a fight than they have so far, and have faced criticism from left-leaning advocacy groups as a result.
But part of the reason Democrats haven’t taken a hard-line approach on par with how Republicans treated Obama’s nominee may be because public opinion surveys suggest liberal voters are less concerned than conservatives about the current Supreme Court vacancy, and who gets to replace the late conservative Justice Antonin Scalia.
To start, the appointment of a liberal justice to replace Scalia would have fundamentally shifted the balance of the court in a liberal direction. As a result, Republicans may have felt they had more to lose if Garland had been confirmed than Democratic voters do now if Gorsuch is confirmed, an outcome that would effectively maintain the ideological status quo ante on the court.
“I think a lot of the current political dynamic has to do with the composition of the court,” said Martha Ginn, a political science professor at Augusta University, who studies public opinion of the …read more
Via:: The Atlantic