Kaine to oppose Trump court pick, join filibuster

Susan Collins came out in support of Republican President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch on Tuesday.

The Virginia Democrat and vice presidential running mate a year ago for Hillary Clinton cited Gorsuch's opinion that employers have the right to deny government-mandated contraception coverage for their workers in explaining his opposition.

"We shouldn't be surprised to see tensions boil over on the question of whether or not to confirm the president's Supreme Court nominee", said Sarah Binder, an expert on the filibuster and a professor of Political Science at the George Washington University. Under Senate rules, Republicans need 60 votes to end debate on Gorsuch's nomination and then a simple 51-vote majority to confirm him, but the GOP majority could modify those rules to end debate with a simple majority - a change known as "the nuclear option".

Republicans will need 60 votes to install Gorsuch on the court. But one that could lead to profound, long-term changes.

Over the weekend, 44 percent of Americans said the 10th Circuit appeals court judge should be confirmed, while 24 percent said he should not be, according to a Morning Consult/POLITICO poll conducted after outside groups spent millions on ad campaigns in order to shift the debate, much of it in favor of Gorsuch. And Republicans are confident they'll have the votes to do it, even as wary as many senators are about forever altering the deliberative nature of the chamber. Chris Coons of DE told MSNBC's Morning Joe.

"There is not one argument advanced in justification for the Democratic Senate majority to go nuclear in November 2013 that doesn't also apply with equal force throughout the executive calendar", Lee said.

Democratic leaders want to make sure the opposition is in place, and Republicans are taking the pulse of traditionalists who might chafe at a rules change.

Gorsuch's four-day confirmation hearing last week was overshadowed by the ongoing Russian Federation saga and House Republicans' efforts to get their Obamacare repeal-and-replacement bill through that chamber, and voters don't appear to be paying much attention to the Supreme Court fight.

"He is the most reasonable and qualified person that we could possibly find, and it's pretty hard to refute that", Toomey said of Gorsuch.

But many Democrats, including Pennsylvania's Sen. He referred to the landmark 1954 Supreme Court ruling that declared racially segregated schools to be unconstitutional.

Sen. John McCain of Arizona usually played a role in those deals. "If the Democrats know that Mitch is ready to vote the nuclear option, they have no desire to not filibuster, right?"

Rounds expressed concern that it could ultimately be used to impact legislation, in addition to presidential nominees, and he thinks Democrats are privately wanting the rules change so that Republicans can shoulder some of the drama that Democrats stirred up in 2013. "If that means we have to change the Senate rules, it will be a very sad day for the Senate, but if that's what it takes, that's what it takes".

  • Larry Hoffman