It took about one minute for the Democratic National Committee to slam President Donald Trump‘s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court tonight.
Florida Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson, however, is holding fire.
“The confirmation of a Supreme Court justice is an awesome responsibility that I gladly accept. I will base my decision on a full examination of Judge Gorsuch’s judicial record and his responses to senators’ questions,” Nelson said a few minutes after Trump announced his selection of Gorsuch.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio praised Trump’s choice.
“Judge Gorsuch is a highly qualified, mainstream jurist, which is why he was unanimously confirmed to the circuit court by the Senate in 2006,” said a Rubio statement. “By all accounts he has the right temperament and experience for the job, and I’m pleased to see him nominated to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court. Most importantly, he is committed to the principles of original intent and judicial restraint. This is critical, because too many in the federal judiciary today believe it is appropriate for judges to invent new policies and rights instead of interpreting and defending the Constitution as it is written.”
Nelson, who is up for re-election in 2018, has a mixed record on Republican nominations to the high court. He voted for President George W. Bush‘s nomination of John Roberts to be chief justice in 2005. Nelson voted against Bush’s nomination of Samuel Alito later that year.
Nelson voted in favor of President Barack Obama‘s nominations of Sonia Sotomayor in 2009 and Elena Kagan in 2010.
Nelson was a member of the Senate in 2006 when Gorsuch was confirmed by a voice vote for his seat on the 10th Circuit.
A potential Republican challenger of Nelson in 2018, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, tweeted his approval for Gorsuch in two languages.
“Great pick to the Supreme Court by President Trump!” Scott told his Twitter followers. A few minutes later, Scott tweeted the same message in Spanish.
Nelson can also expect pressure from the left to oppose Gorsuch. Leading liberal Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., announced her opposition.
Rubio, elected in 2010, has never voted on a Supreme Court nominee. As a candidate, he opposed the Sotomayor and Kagan nominations in 2009 and 2010.
It has been nearly 6-1/2 years since the Senate confirmed Kagan in August 2010. The Republican-led Senate refused to consider President Barack Obama‘s nomination of Merrick Garland last year after conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died.
According to U.S. Senate records, the longest period between Senate confirmation votes on a Supreme Court justice was 12 years between President James Madison’s 1811 nomination of Gabriel Duvall and President James Monroe‘s 1823 nomination of Smith Thompson.
The second-longest drought was the 11 years that separated the 1994 confirmation of Stephen Breyer, a nominee of President Bill Clinton, and the 2005 confirmation of Roberts.
The last Supreme Court nominee to be rejected was Robert Bork, a nominee of President Ronald Reagan, in 1987.