When Did SCOTUS Nominations Get Nasty? In the Beginning

The first president to have a Supreme Court nominee rejected in the Senate: Washington
By Polly Davis Doig,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 2, 2017 8:03 AM CDT

(Newser) – Merrick Garland never got a hearing, and Neil Gorsuch looks headed for a highly partisan showdown this week that could see the first successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee since the 1960s and Senate rules rewritten as Republicans try to put him in the seat that's been empty since Antonin Scalia died more than a year ago. But if you're wondering how we came to this bitter moment of partisan divide over President Trump's pick for the job for life, the AP takes a long look back and finds that we came by it honestly—the first Supreme Court nominee voted down by the Senate was the pick of none other than George Washington, who tapped John Rutledge 222 years ago to succeed John Jay as chief justice. "There were more rejected nominees in the first half of the nation's history than in the second half," says an expert. A look around the landscape as Gorsuch heads for a vote:

  • Democrats Joe Manchin and Heidi Heitkamp announced late last week that they would break party lines to vote for Gorsuch's confirmation, CNN reports.
  • That means Republicans need six more Democrats to defect in order to end their expected filibuster and avoid invoking the nuclear option. CNN takes a look at the 10 Democrats currently sitting on the fence; six are up for re-election.
  • Liberals are licking their chops at the thought of a successful filibuster, reports Politico. "If Republicans decide to go nuclear, that will further energize the resistance movement," a MoveOn.org activist says. "The only bad path here is for Democrats to flee the fight."
  • Writing at Al.com, Alabama AG Steven Marshall opines that Gorsuch could be the deciding vote on the fate of the death penalty—and it's not entirely clear where he would land.
(Read more Neil Gorsuch stories.)

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