Gorsuch: Why Democrats may filibuster
“A ‘nuclear’ confrontation is brewing in the Senate” over Neil Gorsuch, said Rebecca Berg in RealClearPolitics.com. Democratic Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced this week he was unimpressed with the federal judge’s testimony last week, and would seek to filibuster President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Gorsuch, said Schumer, “almost instinctively favors the powerful over the weak.” A filibuster would require 60 votes to end debate and clear the way for confirmation. That’s a tall order when Republicans hold a mere 52-48 edge, while Democrats—still seething over the GOP’s decision to block Obama nominee Merrick Garland for 10 months—are motivated to “obstruct Trump at every turn.” If a filibuster happens, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McCon nell has “telegraphed that he will invoke the so-called nuclear option,” said Seung Min Kim and Elana Schor in Politico.com. That means changing Senate rules to kill the filibuster, allowing Gorsuch—and future high court nominees— to advance with a simple 51-vote majority.
For the Democrats, filibustering Gorsuch “is the right thing to do,” said Paul Waldman in The Washington Post. It’s not just that he was endorsed by right-wing think tanks and will certainly “vote to overturn Roe v. Wade.” The larger issue is that the GOP’s stonewalling of Garland was “a crime against democracy,” and Democrats can’t let it pass without at least a symbolic protest. Centrists argue the party “should be more pragmatic,” said Dean Obeidallah in The DailyBeast.com, and save the filibuster for the loss of a liberal justice such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. But Democrats need to excite their base for 2018, and a passionate, principled filibuster would be a rallying cry—“the Democrats’ own version of the Alamo.”
“Schumer is doing the Republicans a favor,” said Kevin Williamson in NationalReview.com. He has “no substantive case against Gorsuch,” who is eminently qualified. But Schumer is giving the GOP “a perfectly legitimate reason to suspend the filibuster,” and Republicans should change the rules to eliminate it completely—for both Supreme Court appointments and all legislation. Killing the filibuster would mean Democr ats couldn’t block tax reform and other conservative legislation. With “a mercurial president” and a Republican caucus charged with making “needful but unpopular” reforms, GOP control in Washington may be fleeting. “Best to make the most of it.” ■