There is substantial public support for Pres. Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, before the appellate judge’s confirmation hearing Monday. According to a Feb. 13 Fox News poll, 49% of registered voters say they would “vote to confirm” Mr. Gorsuch while just 37% say they would not.
Over the last dozen years, an average of 43% of voters have approved of Supreme Court nominees before their confirmation hearings and only two – Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sonia Sotomayor – had ratings as high as Mr. Gorsuch’s ratings today. One month before the hearing for Mr. Roberts began in 2005, 50% of voters said they would vote to confirm while 26% said they would not. At the time of Ms. Sotomayor’s hearing in 2009, 53% of registered voters said they would vote to confirm while 29% said they would not.
Even though more Republicans back Mr. Gorsuch than Democrats (82% and 17%, respectively), Independents also overwhelmingly support him (54% say confirm while 28% say not to confirm). Broad public support puts pressure on Senate Democrats to join their Republican counterparts in voting to confirm Mr. Gorsuch, especially those up for re-election in states Mr. Trump won. The Democrats’ liberal base may pressure them to obstruct the confirmation, but that would be an ill-advised strategy. The same Fox poll found 54% of voters would disapprove of “Senate Democrats doing everything they can to block any of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominees they don’t like.” Liberal commentators may applaud hyper-partisan obstructionism, but voters will not.