Washington D.C.

“This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court.” – Oregon Senator Jeff Merkly

Senate Democrats are digging in their heels over Trump’s SCOTUS pick Neil Gorsuch and it’s becoming increasingly likely they will filibuster the nominee. Not because Gorsuch is an incredibly bad pick with a long history of anti-LBGT, anti-choice, and anti-consumer decisions. Instead the reason is more simple.

As Chris Murphy (D.-Conn) put it, “The ghost of Merrick Garland still floats around part of this place.”

Merrick Garland was Obama’s nominee for a vacant Supreme Court seat. The GOP stole that seat in 2016 by refusing to even allow a hearing on the pick. Their spurious reasoning was that a President shouldn’t be allowed to nominate someone for the bench during an election year, even though many Presidents have done that before. Ironically, the latest one to do so was the Republican President Ronald Reagan, who picked Justice Anthony Kennedy in 1988.

Murphy is not alone in that sentiment. Many other Senate Dems have gone on record to say they are still smarting from the machiavellian tactics Mitch McConnell employed to rob President Obama of his pick.

Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) is the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee. He tried everything he could to get Garland a hearing and was ultimately unsuccessful. His comments show the bitterness that still lingers over McConnell’s lack of fair play.

“I’m the longest-serving senator,” he told reporters,”I’ve never seen anything like that with either the Republicans or the Democrats. We all take an oath to uphold the Constitution. The Constitution says the president shall nominate, says we shall advise and consent. The president followed the Constitution. The Senate violated it.”

Some Senators were more terse in their comments on the matter. Debbie Stabenow (D.-Mich.) was heading into an elevator when a reporter from the Huffington Post asked if she still had “bad feelings” about the Garland fight.

“What do you think?” was her short but meaningful reply.

Not wanting to tip his hand, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer didn’t rule out the possibility of a filibuster, nor did he say there would be one for certain. His comments were more moderate in tone but still suggested a fight lay ahead.

“Make no mistake,” he said, “Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice.”

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi was even clearer, saying of the pick, “If you breathe air, drink water or eat food, take medicine or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision — well outside the mainstream of American legal thought.”

Perhaps the Democrats will take a moderate approach and as Schumer is suggesting give Gorsuch a hearing, which is a courtesy Garland never received. Or maybe they will follow the lead of Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley, who perfectly channeled the anger their base is still feeling over the sordid affair.

“This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee,” he commented, “and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court.”

Stay tuned to this spot for more updates on the fight to fill the SCOTUS seat!

Follow the author Sean Kent on Twitter – @seankent – and Facebook.