On Tuesday evening, Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon took to the Senate floor to protest the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Merkley has been speaking for eight hours straight and will continue to do so until he is unable. You can watch Merkley hold the floor and continue his protest by tuning in live via social media.
Merkley began his protest at 7 p.m. EST on Tuesday and indicated on his Facebook page that he was holding the floor to contest the "stealing of a Supreme Court seat." In his full post, Merkley expounded on the reasons behind his decision to protest.
By stealing a Supreme Court seat for the first time in American history, the Senate is undermining the Court and the rule of law, and turning the highest court in the land into a political committee. This assault on our democracy demands as robust a resistance as we can possibly mount.
Merkley's protest reflects his historic opposition to Trump's nomination of Gorsuch. Indeed, before Trump announced Gorsuch's nomination, Merkley preemptively opposed it, saying that it was unacceptable to nominate anyone but Merrick Garland — Obama's nominee who was never even given a chance at having a confirmation hearing — for the seat.
Merkley's decision to hold the Senate floor Tuesday evening comes in light of the Republicans' announcement that they plan to hold a vote on Gorsuch's confirmation on Thursday. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly threatened to use the "nuclear option" to secure Gorsuch the nomination. This means that Republicans would forever change Senate rules to allow Supreme Court justices to be confirmed by a simple majority as opposed to a 60-vote minimum. If the Republicans do indeed invoke this option, it is very likely Gorsuch will be confirmed.
While The Hill reports that there is "no sign that Republicans will reverse course" on Gorsuch, Merkley's protest is nonetheless important because it is drawing attention to the many problematic aspects of Gorsuch's nomination. It also symbolizes a powerful act of resistance against Republican strong-arm tactics, such as refusing to hold any hearings for Garland for a year and threatening to change long-held Senate Supreme Court voting procedures in order to push Gorsuch's nomination through.
Merkley is using his time on the floor to point out these inconsistencies, insisting that instead of bulldozing through Gorsuch's nomination process, senators should "recapture the type of cooperation and bipartisanship that made this chamber able to address the problems facing America." Merkley has also proposed that Trump rescinds Gorusch's nomination due to the controversy it has presented.
Merkley is still holding the floor as of 2:30 a.m. EST on Wednesday in Washington, D.C., and it looks as though he will continue for awhile. If you wish, be sure to tune in and watch the remainder of his powerful protest against Gorsuch's nomination, as it is surely history-in-the-making and a poignant reminder of the power of activism.