As the Senate hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch being to wind down, it appears that the fight is just getting started. Indeed, eleventh hour desperation is setting in with the Democrats, and they are now calling a Haily Mary to stop Gorsuch from being placed on the Court.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer confirmed that he will be voting No on Gorsuch’s nomination, and that he plans to have the nomination filibustered.
The Washington Examiner reported that the New York Democrat will make Gorsuch “earn” his confirmation,” and that he will have to overcome a cloture vote.
In order to overcome a potential filibuster, eight Democrats will have to join the GOP in voting to move forward with the vote (assuming that no Republican Senators vote against Gorsuch’s confirmation).
Schumer said Republicans pushing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., to change the Senate rules to allow a simple, 51-vote majority to confirm high court nominees are misguided.
Instead, he said, Republicans should find a new nominee that can attract enough votes to reach the 60-vote threshold.
If this nominee cannot earn 60 votes — a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and President Bush’s nominees, the answer is not to change the rules, it’s to change the nominee,” he said.
The problem with Schumer’s plan is that it has already blown up in their faces, as former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid pushed through a rule change that tossed the 60 vote threshold requirement for nominations.
The outgoing Senate Minority Leader [Reid] was desperate to get Barack Obama’s cabinet appointments through the Senate, so rather than follow Senate protocol – 60 votes to confirm executive office appointments – he pushed through with the “nuclear option,” which only allows a simple majority of senators to approve executive office appointments.
This was in 2013 – the final year Democrats controlled the Senate. Certainly they must have known that the GOP would eventually regain control of the Senate – as they did a year later – and this rule change – this “nuclear option” would come back to haunt them.
The rule change did not affect Supreme Court nominations though, which is why Schumer is able to tout the idea in the first place. However, some prominent Senate Republicans, and even Trump himself, have indicated that they would use the nuclear option if they Democrats refused to work with the Majority on Cabinet and other nominations.
There are a couple of options here: one, at least eight Democrats will break from the rest of the party, and side with the Senate Republicans on the matter. Especially those who are Democratic Senators in blue states, this is a viable possibility (Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia, for example).
Another option is that enough Democrats will stick with the rest of the party, and a filibuster will take place. However, if that is the case, I anticipate that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will use the nuclear option to get Gorsuch through.
Gorsuch will be placed on the Supreme Court, that I am rather sure of. As for how long it will be until he dons the robe and takes the late Antonin Scalia’s seat, that’s is anyone’s guess.
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