Sen. Brian Schatz Opposes Gorsuch Supreme Court Nomination

Schatz says nominee has provided no clarity on key issues

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii)—ranking member on the Senate Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet Subcommittee, says he will not support Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court and will actively oppose any attempt to confirm him.

Gorsuch's nomination vote in the Judiciary Committee had been scheduled for March 27, but Democrats exercised their right to hold it over the first time it was scheduled. It is now set for April 3

"We need to know if Judge Gorsuch will serve as an independent check on the executive and legislative branches. We need to know if Judge Gorsuch will interpret the law fairly or reliably favor the powerful. And we need to know if he will uphold the right to privacy, the basis for a woman's right to choose. Judge Gorsuch has refused to give the Senate any clarity," said Schatz in explaining his opposition.

"In case after case, Judge Gorsuch consistently sided with corporations over individuals, undermined women’s rights, and failed to protect workers… After careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s record and testimony, I have decided that I will not support his confirmation to the Supreme Court, and I will oppose any and all efforts to advance his nomination.”

Ranking member Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pointed to the failure of Republicans to vote on the nomination of Merrick Garland to the seat opened by the death of Antonin Scalia, the seat Gorsuch was nominated to, as one sore point. During the hearing, she read out the names of some of the nominees who got hearings and votes in the final year of a presidency, the reason Republicans gave for not holding a hearing on Garland after Scalia died in February of last year.

She said there was lots of time to vet and vote a nominee. 

Another sore spot was the spending of millions of dollars in dark money on advertising either to promote Gorsuch or oppose Garland. "That sends a loud signal to me," she said, a signal that the Republicans ought to take note of as well in understanding the "depth of feeling" on her side about the nominee and the process.

Gorsuch has been a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has written about his issues with Chevron deference, the Supreme Court precedent for allowing agencies to interpret ambiguous statutes, something Gorsuch has suggested should be left to the courts given separation of powers and equal access issues, points he made in his four-day nomination hearing. 

Gorsuch’s view could be important, depending on how the challenges to the FCC’s Open Internet order play out or in other cases involving FCC interpretation of statute. The FCC argued in defending its original Open Internet order that its authority to regulate ISPs as it did in the net neutrality rules stemmed from Chevron deference. ISPs disagreed.

Gorsuch also signaled during those hearings that he would have at least an open mind toward cameras in the High Court, though he said it was something he had not thought a lot about.