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Klobuchar won't support Supreme Court nominee

DULUTH, Minn.—U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar said on Wednesday that she will not support President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch.

"Senators have a solemn obligation to advise and consent on a president's nominee for the Supreme Court," Klobuchar said in an emailed statement. "... His judicial record on critical issues including the rights of children with disabilities, campaign finance, and preserving health and safety protections have led me to conclude that I cannot support his nomination."

Klobuchar joins Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., in denying support to Gorsuch. Franken announced his decision earlier this week, telling WCCO Sunday Morning that he feared Gorsuch would favor corporations over workers and consumers. Klobuchar was also wary of the nominee's priorities.

"The Supreme Court makes decisions that affect the lives of people across the country," Klobuchar said. "We need justices who understand that and will uphold the motto on the Supreme Court building — to help all Americans achieve 'equal justice under law.' "

Klobuchar's cited Gorsuch's responses during his confirmation hearings in the Senate earlier this month in her reasoning.

"During Judge Gorsuch's hearing, I asked about an opinion he wrote on the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), a law passed to ensure that students with disabilities are supported in school," she wrote in her email. "In a unanimous 8-0 decision last week, the Supreme Court ruled against the narrow interpretation of that law supported by the judge that limited the educational opportunities of children with disabilities."

In Minnesota, 124,000 children rely on IDEA, according to Klobuchar's statement.

"Every justice on the Court must protect them," she said, before continuing with further details explaining her decision.

"I also focused on the judge's approach to campaign finance law," she said. "Since Citizens United, hidden super-sized PAC money has had an outsized influence in our politics, distorting our representative democracy. In a concurring opinion in Riddle v. Hickenlooper, Judge Gorsuch went out of his way to suggest that the Court should apply strict scrutiny to laws restricting campaign contributions. If the Supreme Court adopted that view, it could compromise the few remaining campaign finance protections that are still on the books."

Klobuchar said she gave "thorough examination and consideration" to her decision. During his confirmation hearing, Klobuchar challenged Gorsuch on his strict interpretation of the Constitution, notably the male pronouns used in the document. She wondered aloud if his literal reading of the document would leave any room for a female, for instance, to become president. The back-and-forth between Klobuchar and the judge made for some national headlines, but Gorsuch seemingly allayed her concerns in that regard as the senator did not cite it in describing her thought process.

Instead, she continued, by saying, "The judge also went beyond the facts of the case in another decision last year when he issued a provocative concurrence suggesting that Chevron deference should be overturned," Klobuchar wrote. "This 33-year-old case guarantees that the most complex regulatory decisions are made by experts who are best equipped to handle them. Overturning Chevron would have titanic real-world implications, jeopardizing rules that protect public safety, requirements against lead‐based paint, and clean water protections for our Great Lakes."

To date, none of the Senate's Democrats have come out in favor of Gorsuch's confirmation. Meanwhile, Senate Republicans have been working to accelerate the confirmation process. But the process has slowed as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell considers how far the Republican majority of 52 senators is willing to go politically — including whether to change Senate rules to get around the 60 votes needed to stop a filibuster that Democrats may begin.

On CNN on Wednesday morning, McConnell expressed confidence in Gorsuch's ultimate confirmation.

McConnell said this week that Gorsuch's nomination will hit the Senate floor next week after the Senate Judiciary Committee approves him on Monday. McConnell added that Gorsuch will be "confirmed on Friday" of next week.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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