Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., announced Thursday that she will support Judge Neil Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court ahead of a likely vote in the Senate next week.
"After doing my due diligence by meeting with Judge Gorsuch and reviewing his record and testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, I've decided to vote in favor of his confirmation. He has a record as a balanced, meticulous, and well-respected jurist who understands the rule of law," she said in a statement.
The North Dakota Democrat, who is also up for re-election in 2018, also mentioned that she is still "disturbed" by the decision by Senate Republicans to not consider Chief Judge Merrick Garland after his nomination to the court last March. However, she pressed that "two wrongs don't make a right" and will go ahead and support Gorsuch.
"This vote does not diminish how disturbed I am by what Republicans did to Judge Garland," Heitkamp said. "Senate Republicans played politics at its worst with an honorable, deeply qualified jurist — arguably the most well qualified nominee in modern history — who had long been supported by Republican and Democratic senators for his unmatched experience. His reward: Republicans refused to give him the fair consideration he deserved — not even a hearing — and his nomination was held open for almost 300 days — by far the longest for a Supreme Court nomination."
"But I was taught that two wrongs don't make a right," she said. "There isn't a perfect judge. Regardless of which party is in the White House, the U.S. Supreme Court should be above politics."
Heitkamp is the second Democrat to say she will support him, and she announced just minutes after Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., announced his is also a "yes."
Overall, Senate Republicans are still six votes short of reaching the requisite 60 votes needed to confirm Gorsuch without invoking the so-called "nuclear" option. A number of Democrats have not announced their intentions yet, including those from deep red states such as Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont.
Other longtime Democrats have also been mentioned as potential votes for cloture, including Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., who said earlier this week that he is not "inclined" to filibuster Gorsuch's nomination. However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that he will not support the nomination and will support a filibuster.
Meanwhile, momentum continues to build among Republicans in favor of invoking the nuclear option, which would lower the threshold to 51 votes and allow Gorsuch to reach the court. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has promised that one way or another Gorsuch will be confirmed before the Congress breaks for a two-week April recess.