He said otherwise during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Monday. “I will not support advancing this nomination,” Leahy declared — which is to say he now is inclined to filibuster.
Under a Democratic filibuster, Republicans, who hold 52 of the 100 Senate seats, would need 60 votes to let Gorsuch’s nomination proceed.
Fellow Senate Democrats needed Leahy’s support to reach the filibuster-able number of 41, so the senior Vermont senator no doubt got pressure from the caucus leadership to go along. When he came into the fold, Leahy did so with gusto.
“Perhaps no member sounded as aggrieved as Senator Patrick J. Leahy, Democrat of Vermont and the Senate’s longest-serving member,” the New York Times reported Monday.
“This nominee has since refused to address any substantive issues during his testimony,” Leahy said during Monday’s committee hearing. “He has left this committee and the American people with only unresolved concerns.”
Leahy later cast a vote against Gorsuch’s nomination, but the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 to advance it.
The senior Vermont senator’s willingness to filibuster might turn out to be just as ineffective as his committee vote, however. The Republican Senate majority is looking to change the Senate rules so that they need a simple majority rather than 60 votes to approve a Supreme Court nomination.