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Daily Action: Nudge Feinstein Toward a Gorsuch Filibuster

Sen. Dianne Feinstein
DC: (202) 224-3841
LA: (310) 914-7300

Short Script:
Hello! My name is _______, and I am a constituent of Senator Feinstein's in ____________, California. I'm calling to let her know that I, like millions of others in California, will be behind her 100 percent if she joins the Democrats' filibuster against Neil Gorsuch. He evaded direct answers to her questions about his positions during his confirmations hearings, which is bad enough, But I believe President Trump shouldn't be allowed to push through a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court while there's an ongoing investigation into his ties to Russia. And just as Senator Feinstein pointed out on Monday, Republicans had no problem refusing to hold hearings on Merrick Garland's nomination last year, with no cause whatsoever. With that in mind, it's difficult to imagine Democrats giving Gorsuch an easy path to confirmation. I sincerely hope she joins the filibuster, and I will be proud to support her decision if she does. Thank you!

Neil Gorsuch's Supreme Court nomination seems likely to serve as the latest tipping point in Washington, DC's ever-increasing polarization. California Senator Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, played a prominent role in Gorsuch's contentious, if vague, confirmation hearings. Afterward, she expressed frustration with Gorsuch's evasive answers, Senate Republicans' refusal to consider Merrick Garland's nomination in 2016, and the millions of dollars in dark money that have been spent in both nomination processes.

On Monday, Feinstein said: “These three things [are] setting the table for, at least, how this senator feels about [Gorsuch's confirmation]. This puts this side, in my view, in just a terrible position.” Still, she has not expressly stated her intention to follow Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's push to filibuster the nomination. Her struggle exemplifies Democrats' quandary as they face next week's vote: They must decide whether to acquiesce to the Gorsuch nomination under unsavory circumstances, or whether to filibuster it -- a choice which likely would result in Republicans ending filibusters of Supreme Court nominees as an element of Senate rules.

That explosive set of potential events exemplifies the way Gorsuch's nomination has become caught up in the maelstrom of Trump-administration/GOP dysfunction. Some Democrats (and progressives outside Washington) hope to use his confirmation vote as leverage to force the creation of an independent investigation into Trump's ties to Russia, and his campaign's possible role in that nation's meddling in our 2016 election. Meanwhile, with Senate Republicans' mistreatment of Garland last year still fresh in the memory, other Democrats feel an obligation to block Gorsuch as a matter of principle.

On the other side, conservative individuals and groups are pouring millions in "dark money" into lobbying on Gorsuch's behalf this year, just as they spent millions to oppose Garland last year. That spending has become a bone of contention, particularly in light of the conservative Supreme Court majority's opinion in the 2010 Citizens United case, which opened the door to such unaccountable spending. Still, Republicans are determined to push Gorsuch through -- to the point of expressing their willingness to use a simple-majority vote to change the Senate's filibuster rules for Supreme Court nominees.