By Dave Andrusko
Like many of you, before the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 11-9 to advance to the full Senate the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to become the newest member of the Supreme Court, I jumped back and forth between the debate and the press of other stories.
As we’ve discussed on numerous occasions, the Senate is currently controlled by Republicans, 52 to 48. Under current Senate precedents, it would require 60 votes to “invoke cloture” to end a filibuster on a Supreme Court nominee, which means that at least eight Democrats would have to join the Republicans to end the anticipated filibuster against Gorsuch that liberal groups have demanded. It now seems apparent that there will not be eight — as of this afternoon, 42 Democrats have publicly declared that they will oppose ending the filibuster.
However, in 2013 the then-majority Democrats lowered the cloture threshold from 60 to a simple majority for all other presidential nominations, and Republican senators could now do the same thing for nominations to the Supreme Court if 50 of them agree — the so-called “nuclear option.”
No doubt the Democrats’ “base” was and is pressing Senate Democrats to filibuster Judge Gorsuch. But as you read what various Democrats have said for months and listen to their laments today, it’s seems clear the filibuster pump didn’t need a lot of priming.
There are several threads to what you’re hearing today (and many more no doubt that I didn’t have a chance to listen to). But they include recycling their complaints that Republicans did not hold confirmation hearings on Judge Merrick Garland whom pro-abortion President Barack Obama nominated to replace Justice Scalia. However, as even the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker” conceded [www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2016/03/16/does-the-senate-have-a-constitutional-responsibility-to-consider-a-supreme-court-nomination/?utm_term=.99efa60390b4 ], Republicans were perfectly within their rights (and following precedent) to do so.
What else? Judge Gorsuch was not “within the mainstream,” as defined by pro-abortion Democrats. That Judge Gorsuch was not as forthcoming as other Supreme Court nominees, which is preposterous on its face. The Democrats’ grievance was that Judge Gorsuch refused to spell out how he would vote in certain cases, including, of course, abortion.
But in an-op that appeared on Foxnews.com. Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) cut to the heart of the Gorsuch hearing and the vote.
Anybody watching the nomination hearing for Judge Gorsuch before the Senate Judiciary Committee witnessed a brilliant presentation showcasing his command of the law, his record of independence, his strong sense of humility, and his focus on following the Constitution instead of prejudging cases or promising results.
From beginning to end, partisans and non-partisans alike sang his praises. It started the first day of the hearing when President Obama’s former Solicitor General introduced Judge Gorsuch. For anybody questioning this nominee’s credentials, Democrat or Republican, I’d invite them to read General Neal Katyal’s introduction. It showed genuine appreciation for Judge Gorsuch himself and his approach to the law.
Judge Gorsuch’s testimony, and the testimony of witnesses who actually know him, creates a dilemma for anybody desperately searching for a reason to vote oppose his nomination. Because if you’re voting on qualifications and not politics, it’s an easy yes. …
It’s become abundantly clear that if the Democrats are willing to filibuster somebody with the credentials, judicial temperament and independence of Judge Gorsuch, it’s obvious they would filibuster anybody.
If we’re ever going to get past the well Senator Schumer poisoned when he led the Democrats to “change the ground rules” in 2001 and systematically filibuster circuit court nominees for the first time in our nation’s history, we’re going to need to dig a new well. With or without Senate Democrats.
According to the Hill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) “is expected to schedule a vote on Thursday to end a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch.”