March 27, 2017: Neil Gorsuch, Internet Privacy, Trump's Taxes
- Senate Democrats have delayed the Judiciary Committee vote on Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court.
- SJ. Res. 34 passed the Senate last week, rescinding FCC internet privacy rules. The bill will make it to the House floor tomorrow.
- A markup session in the House Ways & Means Committee for H. Res. 186 is scheduled for tomorrow at 4 PM EDT.
Democrats in the Senate Judiciary Committee have requested to delay the committee's vote on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Under the rules of the committee, any member may request to delay a nomination the first time it is considered. The new vote is expected on Monday, April 3, ahead of April's Congressional recess.
As noted in previous updates, Senate Democrats were largely unable to move Gorsuch off of his script in the three days of his hearings. Nevertheless, Democrats including Minority Leader Chuck Schumer have committed to opposing his nomination. Progressives note his support for Constitutional originalism, a legal philosophy shared by predecessor Antonin Scalia; his support for corporate interests over labor and employee safety in cases like TransAm Trucking v. Admin. Review Bd.; his apparent opposition to federal agencies' ability to implement regulations in cases like Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch; and his siding with religious employers limiting access to birth control coverage for their employees in the Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius case.
It's expected that Gorsuch's nomination will be advanced by the Judiciary Committee once the committee votes. Once that happens, the next step will be a motion of cloture on the Senate floor. A motion of cloture would limit debate on the nomination, thus removing the possibility of a Democratic filibuster. For Supreme Court nominations, 60 votes are required to pass a cloture motion. Senate Republicans have threatened to use the so-called "nuclear option" if Democrats filibuster, changing the rules to allow a cloture motion on Supreme Court confirmations to pass by a simple majority.
- Dems delay Senate panel vote on Supreme Court nominee (The Hill)
- Schumer a no on Gorsuch, will urge Dems to oppose (The Hill)
- Potential nominee profile: Neil Gorsuch (SCOTUSblog)
- TransAm Trucking v. Admin. Review Bd. (10th Circuit decision)
- Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch (10th Circuit decision)
- The roots and limits of Gorsuch's views on Chevron deference (SCOTUSblog)
- Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius (10th Circuit decision)
- Neil Gorsuch fact sheets (Alliance for Justice)
Internet Privacy (SJ. Res. 34):
Last week, the Senate passed SJ. Res. 34, repealing an FCC rule that required broadband and telecommunications companies to protect the confidentiality of their customers' personal information. The repeal of this rule would allow telecommunications companies such as Verizon, Comcast, and AT&T to track consumers' browsing habits and app usage without permission, as well as to sell that data. Though companies in other industries (including search companies such as Google and social media companies such as Facebook) are already allowed to track and sell such personal data, consumer advocates and Internet watchdog groups argue that Internet providers have the widest and deepest access to customer's usage data, and thus represent a much greater threat to privacy.
The bill is now before the House of Representatives and is scheduled for a floor vote tomorrow, Tuesday, March 28. In the House, the bill uses a different number: HJ. Res. 86.
- HJ. Res. 86 (bill information)
- SJ. Res. 34 (bill information)
- SJ. Res. 34 vote results
- Protecting the Privacy of Customers of Broadband and Other Telecommunications Services (FCC rule)
- Congress Moves to Strike Internet Privacy Rules From Obama Era (New York Times)
Trump's Taxes (H. Res. 186):
A markup session has been scheduled in the House Ways & Means Committee for H. Res. 186. This resolution would require the Treasury Department to release the President's tax returns for the years 2006-2015, as well as information about the President's foreign debts and investments, and the use of tax shelters or other loopholes to reduce his tax liability. As a resolution of inquiry, a vote must be taken by the relevant committee within 14 legislative days of its introduction, or the resolution may be brought to the House floor.
To date, 62 Representatives have co-sponsored the resolution. From San Diego County, neither Scott Peters nor Susan Davis has done so, though Juan Vargas has.
Conclusion/Call Script Overview
Today I will be calling both of my senators and asking them to oppose Neil Gorsuch's nomination. I'll also ask them to support Senator Schumer's filibuster by voting against any cloture motion.
I will also call my Congressman and ask him again to co-sponsor H. Res. 186. I'll also thank him for his strong opposition to TrumpCare leading up to last week's defeat of the bill. I'll also ask him to oppose HJ. Res. 86.
If you are not from California, you can find contact information for all U.S. Senators here: https://www.senate.gov/senators/contact/
If you don't know who your Representative in the House, you can look it up here: http://www.house.gov/representatives/find/
Script for Calling Dianne Feinstein
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to ask Senator Feinstein to join Senator Schumer in opposing and filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. As Senator Feinstein, herself, noted in the hearing, Judge Gorsuch was not at all forthcoming about his beliefs or legal philosophy, which is concerning in itself. But I believe that Gorsuch's record on women's rights, worker's rights, immigrants' rights, LGBTQ rights, and the environment are all deeply concerning, especially considering that Supreme Court Justices serve for life. I don't believe we can afford to have a Justice like Gorsuch on our highest court. I would like the Senator to oppose him in the Judiciary Committee vote, and also to vote against any cloture motion if the nomination should make it out of the committee. Thank you."
Script for Calling Kamala Harris
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to ask Senator Harris to join Senator Schumer in opposing and filibustering Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court. I believe that Gorsuch's record on women's rights, worker's rights, immigrants' rights, LGBTQ rights, and the environment are all deeply concerning, especially considering that Supreme Court Justices serve for life. I don't believe we can afford to have a Justice like Gorsuch on our highest court. If the nomination should make it out of the Judiciary Committee, I would like Senator Harris to please vote against any cloture motion. Thank you."
Script for Calling Scott Peters
"Hi, my name is _____ and I'm calling from _____ (zip code). I'm calling to thank Congressman Peters for all of his strong and vocal opposition to TrumpCare leading up to the bill's defeat last week. I'm glad to see my representative in Congress standing up for what's right. On another topic, though, I saw that the Congressman still hasn't co-sponsored H. Res. 186 to get the President's taxes released. That resolution will be voted on tomorrow by the Ways & Means Committee, and I think it's extremely important for all House Democrats to support it, because we have to know whether our President is beholden to any foreign government, or whether he is using his office to enrich himself. Finally, I'd like to ask the Congressman to please oppose HJ. Res. 86, as I think it's vitally important to protect our Internet privacy. Thank you."