Old Confirmation Playbook May Not Apply to Gorsuch Nomination

Strategy memos and talking points are flying around Washington as Democrats and Republicans begin a fierce battle over the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. I am not on the Democrats’ recipient list, but a dozen years of watching these battles from up close tells me a lot about how this contest will play out. Even so, the unique aspects of this confirmation fight ensure surprises.

It was always a good bet that Democrats would focus this battle on President Trump as much as on the nominee. Any doubt about that disappeared on Friday, when the president’s immigration order enraged his opponents and sent them looking to the courts.

At a minimum, Senate Democrats will use their questions during Gorsuch’s week-long confirmation hearings to indirectly attack the president, as they have already done with his Cabinet nominees. Don’t be surprised if Democrats question Trump’s legitimacy to make Supreme Court nominations and hold Gorsuch’s nomination hostage to extraneous demands on the president.