For Immediate Release
April 3, 2017
Jen Retallick, Hamilton Strategies, 610.584.1096, ext. 100, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton, 215.815.7716 or 610.584.1096, ext. 102
Dems Should Reject Filibuster for Gorsuch
Dr. Richard Land, Evangelical Leader and Southern Evangelical Seminary President, Says Senate Rules Should Not Override Constitution
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—The Senate Judiciary Committee is expected to vote soon on the confirmation of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, and Republicans plan for President Trump’s pick will be confirmed by the full Senate before lawmakers depart on April 8 for the Easter holiday.
But Americans are almost assured it won’t be a seamless process, with Democrats promising a filibuster and Republicans vowing to “go nuclear” if necessary.
According to an article in Friday’s Los Angeles Times, the Senate is “heading toward an institution-defining showdown,” as Democrats have promised to try to block Gorsuch’s confirmation with a filibuster, “a rarely seen maneuver for high court appointments.” In response, Republicans say they will use the “nuclear option” to change long-standing Senate rules to circumvent the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster. Instead, they would allow confirmation with a simple majority.
Southern Evangelical Seminary (SES, www.ses.edu) President and Evangelical leader Dr. Richard Land is weighing in on the confirmation process, stating that the nuclear option is fully within the tenets of the U.S. Constitution, while a filibuster for presidential nominees is not.
“Frankly, I was one of the few conservatives who supported the nuclear option when Harry Reid did it in 2013,” Land said, “because I believe the Constitution doesn’t require a super majority for a presidential nominee. I also don’t believe in filibusters for judicial nominees. It’s unconstitutional. The rules of the Senate should not supersede the Constitution. A filibuster, however, can serve a useful function on legislation. It assures that the minority gets a fair hearing of its concerns. Although it did not work on Obamacare, which was passed without one Republican vote, a filibuster encourages compromise on legislation. After arguments are heard, parties can possibly get 70 to 80 percent of what they want on legislation. But you can’t compromise on a nominee—you can’t confirm part of a person. It is either all or nothing.”
Gorsuch believes in natural law, Land added, which is completely in line with SES’s views and philosophy.
“That belief in natural law shouldn’t make a difference on how he rules,” Land said, “but it does have an impact on his inherent view of the law.”
Even though three Democrats—Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va.)—have released statements indicating they would support the confirmation of Gorsuch, most of their Democratic colleagues have expressed various objections to Judge Gorsuch, including the fact that former President Obama’s pick, Merrick Garland, was blocked by Republicans late last year. Donnelly, Heitkamp and Manchin all face reelection next year in states that President Trump carried by big margins in 2016, according to The Hill.
Former Vice President Joe Biden also claimed last week that nine Republican senators told him it was wrong of their party to block Garland, reported Fox News, but Biden “glossed over the fact that the GOP was following a precedent often attributed to him.” Fox News recalled that, in 1992, then-Sen. Biden, who was chairman of the Judiciary Committee, gave a speech on the Senate floor calling for a different standard for filling a Supreme Court vacancy “that would occur in the full throes of an election year.”
“Some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention,” Biden said at the time. “It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over.”
Fox added that Biden’s 25-year-old speech paved the way for the unwritten “‘Biden Rule,’ which stands for the party in power not allowing Supreme Court nominees to come to a vote during the final year of a president’s term.”
“When it comes to the case of Merrick Garland and how Republicans supposedly ‘stole’ that seat—that assertion is not only not true, but blatant hypocrisy,” Land said. “All of a sudden, when Democrats find themselves at the short end of the stick, they forget all about the ‘Biden Rule.’ Secondly, when Sen. Chuck Schumer says that Neil Gorsuch is out of the judicial mainstream, he is talking drivel, and he knows it. If Judge Gorsuch is not qualified, then no one who is not a liberal would be qualified in Schumer’s opinion. Gorsuch is one of the best jurists available in the U.S. to sit on the Supreme Court. This is evidenced by the fact that none of his more than 200 authored opinions during his decade on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals has been reversed by the Supreme Court.”
“Furthermore, using filibusters, which became a Senate rule in 1837, had never been used on a judicial nominee until the last decade of the 20th century and did not become the rule rather than the exception until Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer and their Democrat colleagues began to use them routinely against President George W. Bush’s nominees. A bipartisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee has never happened before. As late as Associate Justice Thomas’s extremely controversial confirmation process in 1991, Justice Thomas was confirmed on a 52-48 vote, well short of the 60 vote margin required by a filibuster, which was not invoked. The present hyper-partisanship in Washington is extremely corrosive and is damaging the country. It must stop.”
Headlines like these will be part of the educational conversation in SES’s proposed new Philosophy, Politics and Economics (PPE) concentration, to commence this fall. The planned PPE concentration will introduce students to the Christian worldview of how philosophy, politics and economics converge, focusing on thinkers such as Thomas Aquinas, Karl Marx, Ludwig von Mises, Friedrich Hayek, Henry Hazlitt, Father Robert Sirico and Jay Richards.
The proposed PPE concentration will train pastors, undergraduate and graduate students, along with lay people interested in a Judeo-Christian perspective, of the vital interconnectedness of philosophy, politics and economics.
For 25 years, SES has been educating Christians about how to best defend their beliefs and recently announced the 24th annual National Conference on Christian Apologetics. One of the largest events of its kind, the timely theme for 2017 is “Pursuing a Faith That Thinks.” The conference is set for Oct. 13-14, 2017, at Calvary Church in Charlotte, N.C.
The conference will welcome the nation’s top apologists, who will give the thousands in attendance new presentations on studies, research, history and insight into apologetics and other intellectual, scientific and religious fields. In addition to Land and SES co-founder Norman Geisler, confirmed conference speakers include Richard Howe, Greg Koukl, Jay Richards, Hugh Ross, Frank Turek and J. Warner Wallace, along with many others. The event will also feature a debate between SES professor emeritus Richard Howe and co-president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, minister turned atheist Dan Barker, on the topic “Is There A God Who Speaks?”
At SES’s apologetics blog, www.WhyDoYouBelieve.org, Land and other SES voices address the most pressing issues of the day. SES also explores ethical issues through its “Ethics in Emerging Technology” program; for more information, visit www.ethics.ses.edu.
For information on SES or to set up an interview, contact Jen Retallick, 610-584-1096, ext. 100, Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, or Deborah Hamilton, 215-815-7716 or 610-584-1096, ext. 102.