The Senate Judiciary'Committee's top Democrat insisted that her party colleagues delayed a committee vote on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch join the Supreme Court due to lingering resentment over Republicans' unwillingness to consider Obama nominee Merrick Garland last year as well as Gorsuch's less-than forthcoming answers on his views about some landmark rulings by the court.
But behind the scenes, Democrats are still struggling to craft a strategy for approaching the eventual vote by the full Senate on Gorsuch's confirmation.
On Monday, Judiciary Committee Democrats, led by Sen. Dianne Feinstein of California, exercised their right to demand a one-week delay on Gorsuch's nomination.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., has said he would urge fellows Democrats to support a filibuster against Gorsuch's appointment, which would require Gorsuch to earn 60 votes in a chamber where Republicans hold only a 52-48 majority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said is willing to use the "nuclear option," which would break with Senate tradition to allow the nomination to go through on a simple majority.
But McConnell may not have to take the drastic step because an increasing number of Democrats on Monday said they might not support a filibuster.
In all, 10 Democrats up for reelection in states carried by President Trump have not said how they will vote when Gorsuch's nomination reaches the Senate floor.
On Monday, however, Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., told reporters in blue-state Vermont, "I am not inclined to filibuster, even though I'm not inclined to vote for him."
Although Joe Manchin of West Virginia, is expected to oppose a filibuster, nine of the 10 Democrats in a precarious position have not said what they plan to do. They include North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, Ohio's Sherrod Brown, Pennsylvania's Bob Casey, Wisconsin's Tammy Baldwin, Indiana's Joe Donnelly, and Missouri's Claire McCaskill, Michigan's Debbie Stabenow and Montana's Jon Tester. Florida's Bill Nelson late Monday afternoon came out in favor of a filibuster.
Democratic leaders have particular reason not to put these candidate on the hot seat because the party has 25 senators up for reelection in 2018 while Republicans have only 9. Losing seats in states that went for Trump could put Democrats further in a hold.
In the meantime, Democratic leaders are holding, at least publicly, to the positions that they can maintain a filibuster against Gorsuch.
On Monday Feinstein said the delay on moving Gorsuch's nomination past the was justified by reservations over the nominee's reluctance to give his views on landmark cases such as the school desegregation case Brown v. Board of Education and because of concerns over $10 million in "dark money" spent on advertising in support of Gorsuch confirmation.
The spending from unknown sources "sends a loud signal to me, and I think the majority needs to consider these things when then when you have nominee who won't answer specific questions," she said.