Judge Neil Gorsuch stands with his wife Louise as President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, to announce Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
PHOTO: Carolyn Kaster/AP
Judge Neil Gorsuch stands with his wife Louise as President Donald Trump speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2017, to announce Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court.(AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Now playing
04:44
Judge Gorsuch: Supreme Court's work is vital
PHOTO: MyHeritage
Now playing
01:01
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
06:46
McEnany says she expected 'peaceful' rally on January 6. Keilar rolls the tape
Now playing
01:26
No, Tom Cruise isn't on TikTok. It's a deepfake
PHOTO: ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live
Now playing
02:02
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall reunite in 'Coming 2 America'
PHOTO: Courtesy AirlingRatings.com
Now playing
03:06
Virgin Atlantic CEO: We support Covid vaccine passports
Now playing
01:19
Warren proposes wealth tax: 'It's time for them to pay a fair share'
Now playing
01:43
Marriott CEO: Vaccinations are 'the key' to travel recovery
Now playing
01:23
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
PHOTO: CNN
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
Now playing
07:40
Former QAnon believer shares bonkers conspiracy theory about Biden
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
Now playing
01:24
'SNL' has 'Dr. Fauci' helping people get vaccinated

Story highlights

Democrats mostly opposed Gorsuch's nomination

Question will be how far they are willing to go to filibuster him

(CNN) —  

Within minutes of President Donald Trump’s selection of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats who will lead the fight in the Senate delivered scathing assessments – but held fire on perhaps the most important question facing them: whether they will filibuster the nomination.

Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer immediately said he had “serious doubts” about Gorsuch and hinted at a Democratic filibuster, saying the nominee would need to the support of 60 senators to be confirmed, but stopped short of committing to the tactic.

“Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness to be a Supreme Court Justice,” Schumer said Tuesday night.

On the surface, Senate Democrats stuck to a firm but somewhat noncommittal message that hinted at the behind-the-scenes debate at the Capitol over whether Democrats will filibuster.

01:01 - Source: CNN Business
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: MyHeritage
Now playing
01:01
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
06:46
McEnany says she expected 'peaceful' rally on January 6. Keilar rolls the tape
Now playing
01:26
No, Tom Cruise isn't on TikTok. It's a deepfake
PHOTO: ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live
Now playing
02:02
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall reunite in 'Coming 2 America'
PHOTO: Courtesy AirlingRatings.com
Now playing
03:06
Virgin Atlantic CEO: We support Covid vaccine passports
Now playing
01:19
Warren proposes wealth tax: 'It's time for them to pay a fair share'
Now playing
01:43
Marriott CEO: Vaccinations are 'the key' to travel recovery
Now playing
01:23
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
PHOTO: CNN
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
Now playing
07:40
Former QAnon believer shares bonkers conspiracy theory about Biden
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
Now playing
01:24
'SNL' has 'Dr. Fauci' helping people get vaccinated
PHOTO: CNN
Now playing
02:17
Pelosi says Gorsuch is a 'hostile appointment'
PHOTO: MyHeritage
Now playing
01:01
Watch old photos come to life using AI
PHOTO: CNN/Getty Images
Now playing
06:46
McEnany says she expected 'peaceful' rally on January 6. Keilar rolls the tape
Now playing
01:26
No, Tom Cruise isn't on TikTok. It's a deepfake
PHOTO: ABC's "Jimmy Kimmel Live
Now playing
02:02
Eddie Murphy, Arsenio Hall reunite in 'Coming 2 America'
PHOTO: Courtesy AirlingRatings.com
Now playing
03:06
Virgin Atlantic CEO: We support Covid vaccine passports
Now playing
01:19
Warren proposes wealth tax: 'It's time for them to pay a fair share'
Now playing
01:43
Marriott CEO: Vaccinations are 'the key' to travel recovery
Now playing
01:23
'There should be no threats': Biden's message to union-busters
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
PHOTO: CNN
Ashley Vanderbilt Former QAnon believer
Now playing
07:40
Former QAnon believer shares bonkers conspiracy theory about Biden
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
snl.fauci.vaccine.orig_00005420.png
Now playing
01:24
'SNL' has 'Dr. Fauci' helping people get vaccinated

If they choose to hold up his nomination unless he can win 60 votes, Democrats risk spurring Republicans to use the “nuclear option” to rewrite the rules to only require 51 votes for confirmation.

Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate, meaning they would still need to find the support of eight Democrats without the nuclear option.

It’s possible moderate Democrats facing tough re-election battles could be plucked away by Republicans to support Gorsuch. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, and Sen. Joe Manchin, a West Virginia Democrat, issued muted statements Tuesday night.

“I look forward to meeting with Judge Gorsuch, examining his record, and making a determination of whether to provide my consent. Just as I have all along, I urge my colleagues to put partisan politics aside and allow the vetting process to proceed,” Manchin said.

And Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who votes with Democrats, hesitated to go after Gorsuch, saying he wants the nominee to go through a thorough vetting before making a decision.

Democrats, meanwhile, are already facing intense pressure from a liberal base fired up after Trump’s inauguration, the immigration ban and a perception that some senators, including Schumer, have been soft on Trump’s Cabinet picks.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, a veteran liberal from San Francisco, laid out her opposition in stark terms at a CNN town hall Tuesday night.

RELATED: Neil Gorsuch: Scalia’s true heir?

“If you breathe air, drink water or eat food, take medicine or in any other way interact with the courts, this is a very bad decision – well outside the mainstream of American legal thought,” Pelosi said.

Top Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, who will spend the coming months vetting (and potentially blocking) Gorsuch announced “deep concerns” with his selection.

“I have deep, serious concerns about Judge Gorsuch,” said Sen. Richard Blumenthal, a Connecticut Democrat. “An extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights including women’s health care, worker and consumer protections, and public health and safety.”

02:51 - Source: CNN
Gorsuch Senate vote headed towards showdown
Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee convene a meeting to discuss what they see as Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland's qualifications to serve on the high court in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 18, 2016 in Washington, DC. Democrats left half the seats at the dais vacant so to emphasize the Senate Republicans' opposition to holding confirmation hearings for Judge Garland.
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images
Democratic members of the Senate Judiciary Committee convene a meeting to discuss what they see as Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland's qualifications to serve on the high court in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill May 18, 2016 in Washington, DC. Democrats left half the seats at the dais vacant so to emphasize the Senate Republicans' opposition to holding confirmation hearings for Judge Garland.
Now playing
02:51
Gorsuch Senate vote headed towards showdown
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Members of the Supreme Court, (L-R) Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices Anthony Kennendy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, applaud as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama focused his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, 'It?s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth'. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
PHOTO: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images North America/Getty Images
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 12: Members of the Supreme Court, (L-R) Chief Justice John Roberts and associate justices Anthony Kennendy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, John Paul Stevens, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, applaud as U.S. President Barack Obama arrives to deliver his State of the Union speech before a joint session of Congress at the U.S. Capitol February 12, 2013 in Washington, DC. Facing a divided Congress, Obama focused his speech on new initiatives designed to stimulate the U.S. economy and said, 'It?s not a bigger government we need, but a smarter government that sets priorities and invests in broad-based growth'. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Now playing
01:21
A look at the current Supreme Court
gorsuch physician assisted suicide gupta pkg ebof_00010927.jpg
PHOTO: CNN
gorsuch physician assisted suicide gupta pkg ebof_00010927.jpg
Now playing
04:57
Gorsuch's views on assisted suicide under fire
Spicer Briefing 4-3
PHOTO: CNN
Spicer Briefing 4-3
Now playing
01:05
White House OK with nuclear option on Gorsuch