When Neil Gorsuch heads up to the Senate this week it’ll be interesting to see if his only enemies will be Democrats. Chuck Schumer has promised that he will force the Republicans to go nuclear. What he is saying is that he will not release the Democratic senators in red states to vote against a filibuster. The filibuster would prevent the nomination from being brought to the full senate for a simple majority vote. This is a tricky situation. There are seven Democrats up for re-election in 2018 who are in states that voted for Trump. If all of those voted against the filibuster and the vice president threw in his vote that would be sixty. But realistically it doesn’t seem likely that all seven would cave. So if the Democrats can let a few of the most vulnerable vote for cloture it still allows few of the more secure senators to vote against.
This leads to the nuclear option. The Dems under Harry Reed eliminated the filibuster for every confirmation approval type but the Supreme Court justices. This occurred because the republicans effectively blocked Obama’s other court selections. Schumer at the time was hesitant about the decision. Now he is shown prescient. Trump has the potential of appointing another two (and possibly more) SCOTUS picks during his tenure. And eliminating the filibuster would make the appointments under the current congressional make-up almost routine.
Great! What’s not to love? Well, not so fast. If I were to guess, John McCain and Lindsey Graham would be the usual suspects in any revolt in the ranks. I can just imagine high flowery prose defending the sanctity of the filibuster as a sacred check and balance against the tyranny of the majority. Blah, blah, blah.
Okay, how does it end up? My guess, Trump tells McConnell to promise McCain and Graham either some senate perks or some pork for their states and they find a way to vote for the change. Then the same kabuki theater gets repeated during the actual approval when some other senators discover they have perks or pork that need to be addressed. Long story short, Vice President Pence comes over to the Senate and Gorsuch gets approved 51 – 47.
You can say that eliminating the filibuster is a dangerous play. In four years President Warren will be nominating Justice Obama for the bench and we’ll be powerless to block that appointment. To that I say, whatever.
You only get to worry about the bullet you dodge today. If you die today, writing on your tombstone that your bullet proof vest is on order would sound pretty pathetic. So the play is sound. Get Gorsuch in. Get Kennedy to resign and replace him with Tomás de Torquemada as soon as is humanly possible. And add another conservative jurist as soon as superhumanly possible. So much damage has already been done that it will take eight years of a Trump administration just to get us back to the baseline of where we were under John Kennedy.
So gentlemen of the Senate, get off your asses and get it done. I was promised a (sort of) conservative Supreme Court by Easter. But I’m getting impatient. Let’s shoot for Palm Sunday.