McConnell: Nominations of Garland and Gorsuch Are ‘Apples and Oranges’

By Susan Jones | February 1, 2017 | 8:22am EST

( – Even before President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats were vowing to give Trump’s nominee the same treatment Republicans gave Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Obama 11 months before his term ended.

Republicans refused to even hold a hearing on Garland, arguing that such an important nomination should wait until November, giving voters a chance to be heard.

Why should Democrats treat Gorsuch any differently? a reporter asked McConnell on Tuesday.

“This is a beginning of a four-year term,” McConnell replied. “This is not in the middle of a presidential election.

“And as all of us have said, there have been Supreme Court appointments in the middle of the first term for Bill Clinton, for Barack Obama. None of those four nominees was denied an up-or-down vote.

“So let's talk about apples and apples, and not apples and oranges. This is the beginning of a new presidency. Donald Trump ought to be treated exactly the same as Bill Clinton and Barack Obama were by the Senate minority.”

Trump campaigned on a promise to nominate conservative Supreme Court justices, even releasing two lists of  favored nominees before the November election. (Gorsuch appeared on the second list, released in September.)

On Tuesday night, Trump told the nation, “I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch.”

Trump said he hoped that “both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once, for the good of the country.”

But there's no chance of that happening. Democrats, propelled by furious liberal activists, already are voicing objections to Gorsuch.

Even before Trump made his announcement, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said, "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."

Merkley indicated that he will force Republicans to find 60 votes for confirmation.

Former Labor Secretary Tom Perez, now in the running for Democrat Party Chairman, issued one of the more scathing statements Tuesday night, saying in part:

"Simply put, a Justice Gorsuch on the Supreme Court is intolerable and it’s up to Democrats to block his nomination. As I’ve said before, we need to afford Donald Trump the same level of cooperation Mitch McConnell afforded President Obama. That starts with making sure that Judge Gorsuch never sits on the Supreme Court."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer issued two tweets: "‏Gorsuch put corps over workers, been hostile toward women’s rights & been an ideolog. Skeptical that he can be a strong, independent Justice."

And: "SCOTUS justice must stand up to a Pres willing to bend the Constitution. Serious doubts on Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard."

Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) was among the first to express “deep, serious concerns” about Gorsuch, calling him “an extreme ideologue” moments after Trump's announcement.

“I have reached no conclusion, but I will support a hearing and a vote,” Blumenthal said. “If I conclude that Judge Gorsuch is out of the mainstream, then I will pursue every legal tool available to block his nomination.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) tweeted, "Judge Gorsuch must explain his hostility to women's rights, support of corporations over workers and opposition to campaign finance reform."

Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse told CNN on Wednesday morning, “I think the point now is not so much that this guy is or isn’t qualified; the point right now is that we’ve got to make sure we protect the court from becoming the kind of political delivery system that the five Republicans have made it.”

And House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) told a CNN town hall Tuesday night, “if you breathe air, drink water, eat food, take medicine, or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision.”

Pelosi called Gorsuch “well outside the mainstream of American legal thought.”

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