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Justice Gorsuch: Why His Big Moment Was a Waste of Time

By Wildany Guerrero | 4/21/17 12:43pm | Updated 4/21/17 12:43pm

President Donald Trump with Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch at the White House.

White House Official Photographer

The Supreme Court formally added its 113th Justice in United States history earlier this month after a month-long political battle in the Senate that did nothing but delay the inevitable. New Justice Neil Gorsuch enjoyed his first day on the bench Monday, but getting to this point was a long and unnecessary process.

Democrats wanted to seek revenge for the events that followed former President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Garland was nominated on March 16, 2016, eight months before the election and ten months before Donald Trump would assume the office of the presidency. Garland was never granted a confirmation hearing in the Senate because of a Republican lead effort to postpone the vote until Obama’s presidency had expired. This time around, Democrats failed to execute a meaningful filibuster to Gorsuch’s vote as a form of retaliation.

Republicans in the Senate were not impressed by the rhetoric directed at them in the weeks leading up to Gorsuch’s confirmation hearings. Democrats issued weak attacks on Gorsuch’s character that detracted from the very serious issues facing the nation, which are taking place during the formative and pivotal times of a new presidential administration.

The topic of conversation for Democrats for the month of March did not focus on Trump’s recent hits against the environment or even their win against the Obamacare repeal. Instead, much of Democrats’ attention was centered on an instance where Gorsuch misspoke during his confirmation hearing, and then quickly corrected himself. In discussing a 2016 ruling where an illegal immigrant, Hugo Gutierrez-Brizuela, was offered conflicting reports on the status of his ability to apply for citizenship, Gorsuch quickly caught himself referring to Guiterrez using the wrong terminology.

"My record, is when an undocumented alien — immigrant, sorry — is not properly represented and there's a history of a lawyer failing his clients in that area, [we] referred him for dismissal from our bar," said Gorsuch during his confirmation hearing.

Democrats were up in arms about this slip of the tongue and attempted to highlight it as a depiction of the carelessness and lack of respect conservatives often have when addressing certain groups of people in the U.S.

“This is a big deal” said Senator Al Franken of Minnesota, attempting to draw media attention to an otherwise un-newsworthy confirmation hearing.

Senator Franken’s attempt to draw media and public attention fell short for a clear reason: everyone except Senate Democrats want to move past this issue. In every major poll taken of the American public, the majority of respondents indicated that they don’t know enough or simply do not care enough to take a firm position on the issue.

In a CBS news poll taken from March 25 to March 28, respondents were asked the question “Should the Senate vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch?” Across party lines the majority of the American public responded with “Can’t Say.” Whereas 29 percent of those polled responded affirmatively and 16 percent of those polled responded negatively, 51 percent of those polled claimed complete indifference to the issue.

Simply put: the fight over Neil Gorsuch was not a priority or an issue of interest to the American people. The entire ordeal was a waste of time.

Shortsightedness also played a large factor in the political debacle that occurred over the past couple of weeks. The truth of the matter is that more likely than not, another seat on the Supreme Court will need to be filled during the Trump administration. By forcing their Republican counterparts to invoke what is known as the “nuclear option” (a parliamentary procedure that allows for the Senate to override a rule or precedent by a simple majority of 51 votes over the normal supermajority of 60 votes) in the Senate, Democrats have set a dangerous precedent.

Already in the minority of both houses of Congress, Democrats have given up whatever leverage they had following their success in stopping the American Health Care Act—Republicans first turn at replacing the Affordable Care Act—from becoming law. Republicans in both houses will now prioritize a method of political bullying going forward. With momentum in their favor, Republicans will refer often to the time wasted on Justice Gorsuch’s confirmation to proceed or delay action in Congress as they see fit.

The politicizing of a Supreme Court nominee’s confirmation hearing was tasteless and unwarranted. Democrats forfeited their political leverage in both the House of Representatives and the Senate while Republicans cheered and patted themselves on the back for accomplishing an appointment that was bound to happen. It was the American people that were handed weeks worth of delay and neglect on the issues they want to see resolved.