Liberal activists are increasingly upset at what they see as too little opposition to President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee and are even threatening to run primary challengers against Democrats in the Senate who end up supporting Judge Neil Gorsuch.
Nearly a dozen influential liberal groups fired off a letter this week calling Judge Gorsuch “an ultra-conservative” and demanding a more unified opposition.
“We need you to do better,” the groups said in the letter, which was organized by NARAL Pro-Choice America.
Several news outlets reported that the groups may even back primary opponents against Democrats who don’t show enough opposition.
On Capitol Hill, liberal senators are looking for lines of attack against Judge Gorsuch, who until now has received glowing reviews from many of the senators — including Democrats — with whom he has met.
Three Democrats held a press conference Tuesday to question Judge Gorsuch’s rulings on workers’ rights, saying some of his decisions as an appellate judge contradict Mr. Trump’s promises to empower American workers.
Sen. Patty Murray, Washington Democrat, said Judge Gorsuch has “a distinctly anti-worker record.”
She pointed to a ruling against a woman who lost her job after a leukemia diagnosis, against a female employee’s discrimination case and against a truck driver who was fired for leaving his post because of health concerns.
“I’m very concerned that should he end up on the court, he would side with conservative justices in continuing to undermine worker protections, safety and ability to organize,” Ms. Murray said.
Carrie Severino, chief counsel at the conservative Judicial Crisis Network, said Ms. Murray and her colleagues were cherry-picking cases to distort the judge’s record.
She said Judge Gorsuch, as a lawyer, won a major antitrust case against U.S. Tobacco Co. and, as a judge, wrote a ruling that restored multimillion-dollar penalties against Dow Chemical Co. and Rockwell International.
Early efforts to undermine Judge Gorsuch have fallen flat, leaving ardent Democrats looking for new angles of attack.
Sen. Richard Blumenthal, Connecticut Democrat, requested documents from the Federalist Society and The Heritage Foundation, two conservative organizations that helped shape Mr. Trump’s list of potential Supreme Court nominees.
“The wholesale outsourcing of nominee selection to interest groups is without known precedent, especially for a position as important as associate justice of the Supreme Court,” Mr. Blumenthal said.
Ms. Murray said liberal groups’ frustration should be aimed at Mr. Trump.
“With all the chaos surrounding this new administration, I want to make it clear I have really serious concerns about moving forward with the nominee at this time,” she said.
“I think there is a lot going on that makes it very hard to look at anything that they are doing. The ‘hide the ball’ campaign is real, and this is a serious nomination that should take serious consideration,” Ms. Murray said.
Despite the liberal uprising, Judge Gorsuch made rounds Tuesday on Capitol Hill and met with four Senate Democrats.
Sen. Al Franken, Minnesota Democrat, told reporters that he wasn’t satisfied with some of Judge Gorsuch’s answers to his questions and thought he got into “judgespeak.”
“He’s met with 70 senators, so I think he’s probably gotten pretty good at speaking around some things,” Mr. Franken said.
Sen. Ted Cruz, a Texas Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said he doesn’t expect Democrats to put aside politics because they are “furious that the voters would dare vote for a Republican president and a Republican majority in both houses of Congress.”
“I have no doubt the Democrats will use whatever procedural tools they have to delay that confirmation,” Mr. Cruz said.