Republicans are heading into the final round in their effort to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
A coalition of outside groups is making their case in advertisements in key states, while other GOP supporters are appealing directly to Democratic senators to garner support for the Supreme Court nominee. The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on Gorsuch’s nomination on Monday, with a final confirmation vote expected next Friday.
Former Sen. Kelly Ayotte, who has been serving as Gorsuch’s “sherpa” guiding him through the confirmation process, said in a Friday press call that they are continuing to reach out to senators. She did note many have already made up their minds.
“We are reaching out and checking in with people as they need additional meetings and they need additional information,” the New Hampshire Republican said. “I know that other colleagues that I previously served with in the Senate are also doing so.”
Ayotte said Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, has met with roughly 80 senators since President Donald Trump nominated him on Jan.31.
As Gorsuch and others have made personal contacts with senators, a coalition of more than 50 outside groups led by the Judicial Crisis Network have turned their attention to the states, zeroing in on Democrats in Republican-heavy states who have not yet announced their positions.
On Friday the Judicial Crisis Network announced a $1 million television and digital ad buy, with state-specific ads in Missouri, Indiana, Montana and Colorado.
The goal is to pressure those Democrats to buck their party leadership. Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., has encouraged his caucus to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination.
But the majority of Democrats have decided to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination. Schumer has cited Gorsuch’s rulings in favor of corporations and an ongoing F.B.I. investigation into the Trump campaign’s potential contacts with Russian officials during the 2016 campaign as reasons not to confirm Trump’s nominee.
Democrats are also still smarting from Republicans’ treatment of President Barack Obama’s nominee for the seat, Judge Merrick Garland. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., led the GOP Senate in denying Garland a hearing or a vote, arguing the vacancy should be filled after the presidential election to give the American people a voice in the direction of the court.
“If the Democrats want to use this as political payback that’s unfortunate,” Ayotte said. “They’re not really looking at the actual nominee.”
Democrats are vowing to call for a cloture vote, or a vote to end debate on Gorsuch’s nomination, which would require 60 votes. If the 52 Republicans cannot find eight Democrats to join them in voting for cloture, that could alter the Senate rules. Republicans would likely move to chamber rules and lower the cloture threshold for high court nominees to a majority-vote.
McConnell has signaled he is willing to change the rules, promising that Gorsuch will be confirmed next Friday.
“They will do that if they need to do it,” Ayotte said of the potential rule change. “I hope it doesn’t come to that.”