Senator Angus King announced his decision to vote against the confirmation of President Trump’ Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch last night, and his whole statement is worth a read, not just for his detailed explanation of his decision based on the judge’s legal record and hearing testimony, but for his more personal remarks on how arrived at his conclusions.
King cites Gorsuch’s specific words and actions on important cases involving touchstone issues like women’s ability to access to contraception and corporations’ ability to ignore campaign finance laws. He also explains his own evolution on the use of the filibuster.
“Although I came here deeply skeptical of this practice, I have come over time (even when I was a member of the majority caucus) to appreciate its role in forcing a modicum of bi-partisanship in connection with important issues. While I still believe in reform of the institution so that we can stop the logjam in Washington, it seems to me that for major policy decisions, like a lifetime appointment, it is not unreasonable to require 60 votes in order to garner broader, more sustainable bipartisan support, which I think is in the interest of the nation,” writes King.
Progressives, unsurprisingly, were heartened by King’s decision.
“By rejecting Trump’s extreme Supreme Court nominee, Sen. Angus King is helping to build the Senate firewall against Trump’s anti-democratic, anti-civil rights, and anti-environmental agenda,” said Glen Brand, director of Maine’s chapter of the Sierra Club.
And Maine Republicans were, also unsurprisingly, petulant.
“Today, Senator King abandoned his so called ‘Independent’ label by siding with New York Democrat Senator Chuck Schumer,” said Maine GOP executive director Jason Savage.
(I guess it’s just a reflex action at this point, but I’m not sure they can use the City of New York as a derogatory descriptor anymore now that the head of their party literally makes his home in a golden tower in the middle of Manhattan.)
But perhaps the most practical result of King’s announcement is that it throws Sen. Susan Collins’ actions on the matter into even starker relief. Maine’s senior senator supports Gorsuch and yesterday hinted that she would be willing to go back on her previous support for preserving the filibuster in order to see him confirmed. It could be a seminal moment both for the parliamentary history of the chamber and for her own image as a moderate and institutionalist senator.