Where each Democratic senator stands on putting Trump’s judge on the Supreme Court

Who is on #TeamSpine?

CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster
CREDIT: AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

We now know who Donald Trump wants to put on the Supreme Court.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, a hardline conservative on reproductive rights with an ambitious plan to weaken regulatory agencies such as the Environmental Protection Agency and the Labor Department, is Trump’s nominee for the seat that Senate Republicans held open until Trump could fill it. Forty-nine-year-old Gorsuch is a great admirer of Justice Antonin Scalia, the conservative icon he’s been tapped to replace. He is the sort of nominee who is likely to make Republicans swoon and Democrats cringe.

But will Democrats vote “no?”

Here is ThinkProgress’ running tally of where every Democratic senate who has expressed a position stands on the Gorsuch nomination. As more senators announce their position — or as they update their positions — we will update this whip count.


Team Spine

Team Spine consists of the senators who have affirmatively stated that they will vote “no” on the Gorsuch nomination and who also have not equivocated on a filibuster.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-WI)

“President Trump needs to earn 60 votes (for Gorsuch) in the Senate, but I am not one of them,” Baldwin said, adding that she has “concerns about this nominee’s deeply troubling record” on the bench.

Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ)

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH)

The people of Ohio deserve Supreme Court Justices who will defend the rights of working families over Wall Street and corporate special interests — and Judge Gorsuch’s record doesn’t pass that test.

Sen. Tom Carper (D-DE)

Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA)

Sen Dick Durbin (D-IL)

“He did not earn my vote,” Mr. Durbin said. “I’ll vote no when his nomination comes before the committee next week. I will vote no on cloture, and I’ll oppose his nomination on the Senate on the Senate floor.”

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN)

I’m going to vote against him. I fear that he’s going to be another part of another 5–4 Roberts Court that rules for corporations . . . and against individuals.

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)

Judge Gorsuch has proven to have a judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream and time and again has subjugated individual rights to those of corporations. I fundamentally disagree with his ruling that a boss should be able to make family planning decisions for an employee and that corporations are people. I plan to stand up for individuals over corporations and oppose his nomination, and I will insist that his nomination meet a traditional 60 vote threshold.”

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA)

Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, the civil rights hero who argued Brown and inspired my career, once bluntly defined his judicial philosophy, saying, “You do what you think is right and let the law catch up.” In simple terms, Justice Marshall appreciated that the ultimate goal of the law was justice. By stark contrast, Judge Gorsuch has consistently valued narrow legalisms over real lives. I must do what’s right. I cannot support his nomination.

Sen. Maggie Hassan (D-NH)

After considering the totality of Judge Gorsuch’s record and judicial philosophy, I have concluded that at this critical moment in our nation’s history, Judge Gorsuch has failed to demonstrate the judicial approach needed in a Supreme Court justice. While Judge Gorsuch is by all accounts a man of great integrity in his personal life, his record demonstrates that he has too often shown a disregard for the impact that his decisions have on the lives of real Americans, consistently putting big corporations before the rights and liberties of hard-working people and families.

Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-NM)

Given the multiple congressional and criminal investigations that are tainting this Administration, it would not be responsible to move forward with President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee until these Russia-related allegations are resolved. We simply cannot process a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land under these circumstances, especially since the court may be called upon to resolve matters related to these investigations.

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI)

“I will not be supporting Neil Gorsuch,” Hirono, who is up in 2018 in a solidly Democratic state, told CNN on March 27.

She said she would “very much support” a 60-vote filibuster and said, “I don’t think that the Republicans have 60 votes.”

Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA)

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)

His judicial record on critical issues including the rights of children with disabilities, campaign finance, and preserving health and safety protections have led me to conclude that I cannot support his nomination.

Senator Ed Markey (D-MA)

Judge Gorsuch has authored or joined opinions that have demonstrated hostility to women’s reproductive rights, commonsense environmental regulations, and the rights of workers, consumers, and the disabled. I will not support the nomination of Judge Gorsuch.

Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)

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.

Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT)

I am deeply concerned about the politicization of the Court, and its recent capture by corporate and special interests. I am convinced Judge Gorsuch would exacerbate that slide, and continue the activist bent of the existing Court. For that reason, I cannot support him.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)

President Trump has demonstrated complete disregard for law, the U.S. Constitution, and the best interests of American families. He continues to try and force through an un-American, unconstitutional ban on Muslim refugees and immigrants, and he fired an acting attorney general when she refused to compromise her legal judgment in order to conform to his demands. That chaos, coupled with the cloud of an FBI investigation into the president and his associates, has led me to the conclusion that I cannot trust that President Trump is acting in the best interest of our country or our democracy and that I cannot support moving forward with his choice for the Court.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL)

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI)

The U.S. Supreme Court is often the last line of defense for everyday Americans, and Judge Gorsuch’s previous rulings indicate he believes that corporations have greater rights than individuals. Whether it is ruling against children who want an equal opportunity to get a quality education or women who want access to health care, Judge Gorsuch often fails to take into account the human face behind each case. . . . After careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s comments and his record, I cannot support his nomination to serve on our nation’s highest court.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)

Americans deserve a Supreme Court justice who respects the rights of workers to be treated fairly instead of bowing to big business. We cannot stand by while the court dismantles the Voting Rights Act and lets cowards in statehouses erect roadblocks to voting. . . . After careful consideration of Judge Gorsuch’s record, I have concluded that I will not vote to confirm him to be an associate justice of the Supreme Court, and I will not support Republican efforts to change the rules to choke off debate and ram the nomination through the Senate.

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY)

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH)

“After meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his record and testimony, I cannot support his nomination to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Shaheen. “His record on women’s reproductive rights is very troubling and, despite the many questions raised to him during his nomination hearing, he did not provide any assurances that he would defend the important precedent of Roe v. Wade. I cannot support a Supreme Court justice who would turn back the clock on women’s reproductive rights.”

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI)

After reviewing Judge Gorsuch’s rulings, it is clear that he has a long record of siding with special interests and institutions instead of hard-working Americans. And, therefore, in my judgment, he does not meet this standard of balance and impartiality. . . . I have concluded that supporting the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court is not in the best interests of the people of Michigan whom I am proud to represent.

Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM)

“I have met with Judge Gorsuch, followed the hearings in the Senate Judiciary Committee, and studied his record, and decided that I can’t support his confirmation. . . . He failed to answer questions that are critical for me — his position on the rights of working mothers, whether women can choose their own health care decisions, LGBTQ rights, and dark money in our elections.”

Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD)

After carefully evaluating Neil Gorsuch’s record and his testimony before the Judiciary Committee, I have concluded that he applies a cramped reading of the law and consistently sides with powerful special interests against the rights of individuals, workers, and consumers. When he had an opportunity during the hearings to clarify that bias, he chose instead to evade questions and answered with platitudes, not substance.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)

We don’t need another justice who spends his time looking out for those with money and influence. Based on the long and well-established record of Judge Gorsuch, I will oppose his nomination.

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI)

Democrat Whitehouse told The Journal on Friday morning that he feels he “gave Judge Gorsuch every chance” during the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings, “and indeed pressed him and pressed him on the issues I think are the dominant ones and I came away dissatisfied … [and] am not in a position to vote for his confirmation.”

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR)

The Gorsuch nomination represents a breathtaking retreat from the notion that Americans have a fundamental right to Constitutional liberties, and harkens back to the days when politicians restricted a people’s rights on a whim . . . No Senator who believes that individual rights are reserved to the people, and not the government, can support this nomination.

Team Almost There

Team Almost There consists of senators who released strongly worded statements criticizing Gorsuch directly, but have not yet explicitly said that they will oppose his nomination. It does not include senators who only expressed broad concerns about Senate Republicans’ treatment of Chief Judge Merrick Garland or of Donald Trump, unless the senator also indicates that those concerns incline them to oppose Gorsuch.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)

I have deep, serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch. . . . An extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights, including women’s health care, worker and consumer protections, and public health and safety.

Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA)

The American people deserve a Supreme Court justice who will ensure full protection of all their rights, especially the right to privacy. There is too much at stake — from women’s choice and immigration reform to LGBTQ rights and marriage equality to voting rights and campaign finance reform. I have concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s record on a number of important issues. We need a justice who will help move our country forward, not backwards, as part of a Court that recognizes settled law.

Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE)

I’m going to keep an open mind. I’m going to dig into his record. I’ve already started reading into the background of a number of his cases. He is on the conservative end of the legal spectrum, and he supports a number of radical departures from settled law that concern me, but I’m going to dig into the details and the background and look forward to meeting with him.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-IL)

While I will reserve judgment on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination until his confirmation hearing in order to give my decision the diligence it deserves, I am troubled by his judicial record of undermining the federal government’s ability to protect labor and environmental rights, his hostility toward a woman’s right to make her own reproductive choices, and by one of his previous ruling that refused to hold law enforcement accountable for excessive force that led to a young man’s death. I am also concerned by several of Judge Gorsuch’s rulings that would deny students with disabilities the right to a quality public education.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA)

Last October, when asked about the Supreme Court overturning Roe v. Wade, then-candidate Trump said ‘That will happen automatically, in my opinion, because I am putting pro-life justices on the court.’ “Then tonight, President Trump declared, ‘I am a man of my word.’ That’s exactly what I’m afraid of. Judge Gorsuch voted twice to deny contraceptive coverage to women, elevating a corporation’s religious beliefs over women’s health care.

Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI)

Judge Gorsuch’s record in the lower court suggests he could impose significant new constraints on civil liberties, women’s rights and workers’ rights, and roll back consumer protections and clean air laws. I am concerned that Judge Gorsuch has a tendency to favor the interests of big corporations and special interests over every day Americans.

Sen. Brian Schatz (D-HI)

Team Equivocation

Team equivocation includes senators who say they will oppose Gorsuch on the final confirmation vote, but who either oppose a filibuster or have expressed concerns about filibustering Gorsuch.

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD)

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT)

“I don’t have a problem with a conservative judge, I’ve voted for a lot of conservative judges,” Leahy said. “But when you have somebody who won’t answer basic questions on everything from freedom of religion to presidential litmus tests, that’s very troublesome. . . . I am not inclined to filibuster, even though I’m not inclined to vote for him.”

Leahy, however, since moved in the direction of Team Spine:

Team ¯_(ツ)_/¯

Team ¯_(ツ)_/¯ includes senators who put out non-committal statements, who used their statements to outline broad principles without applying those principles to Judge Gorsuch’s record, or who complained about Trump or the treatment of Garland without indicating that those complaints will lead them to vote “no.”

Sen. Michael Bennet (D-CO)

As a fellow Coloradan, Michael congratulates Judge Gorsuch and his family. Michael takes seriously the Senate’s responsibility to advise and consent on Supreme Court nominations. He intends to review Judge Gorsuch’s record carefully in the coming weeks.

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV)

Cortez Masto said she would evaluate the nominee on “individual merits and without bias. That’s what I have been doing and will continue to do.”

“Any individual who is nominated to serve on the Supreme Court will be making decisions with broad implications for our safety, our rights and our core values as Americans,” she said, “… and I believe Judge Neil Gorsuch’s views on the issues and his full record deserves to be intensely scrutinized.”

Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN)

As I have said part of our job as Senators includes considering, debating, and voting on judicial nominations, including to the Supreme Court. I will carefully review and consider the record and qualifications of Neil Gorsuch.

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND)

“This idea that somehow you can bully me into doing something that I don’t think is right for the country by saying ‘You’re from a red state,’ it just gets old,” sighed Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.). “This idea that, ‘Oh, she’s up for reelection and she’s going to be scared’? Anyone who says that about me doesn’t know me that well.”

Heitkamp said she is genuinely undecided on Gorsuch, including whether to back a potential filibuster of him.

Sen. Angus King (I-ME)

My approach to considering Judge Gorsuch’s nomination will be consistent with my approach to considering Merrick Garland’s nomination last year: I will listen to the views he expresses before the Senate Judiciary Committee and carefully evaluate his record to understand his judicial philosophy and temperament.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV)

I look forward to meeting with Judge Gorsuch, examining his record, and making a determination of whether to provide my consent. Just as I have all along, I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed.

Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO)

Heitkamp said she is genuinely undecided on Gorsuch, including whether to back a potential filibuster of him. Ditto for Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, who said Democrats will be far more thoughtful about Gorsuch than Republicans were about Garland.

“I mean, how big a hypocrite am I going to be?” fumed McCaskill. “I am not going to model my behavior after their terribly bad, historically, precedent-setting behavior. I’m not doing that.”

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ)

[Gorsuch] must prove his dedication to fairness, nondiscriminatory justice, the equal protection of all Americans under the law, and the ideals of this country. Most importantly, as a Supreme Court Justice, Judge Gorsuch must demonstrate he understands that the Supreme Court is the main safeguard of our Constitution and must remain an independent, equal branch of government, and no Justice can be beholden to the interests of any one person or group — including those of the president who appoints him.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-MT)

In the coming weeks, I will be thoroughly reviewing the qualifications of President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch. It’s critically important that he has an understanding of the Constitution and is willing to defend it. I look forward to sitting down with Judge Gorsuch, looking him in the eye, asking him tough questions, and finding out if he shares our Montana values.

Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA)

Though I wish the President had taken the time to review a larger set of judicial candidates than the ones recommended by conservative advocacy organizations, Judge Neil Gorsuch has an impressive résumé and academic background. However, his record must be thoroughly vetted to ensure his views and judicial philosophy are not out of the mainstream.

Team Trump

Team Trump includes those Democratic senators who intend to support Mr. Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court.

As of this writing, no Democrat has explicitly joined Team Trump.

Did we miss someone who has expressed a view of Gorsuch? Has a senator changed their position? Do you work for a Democratic senator and wish to send us an on-the-record statement indicating that your boss is on Team Spine? Email the author at imillhiser /at/