Senate prepares to change rule on Supreme Court

The pressure has shifted to Republicans in the last day now that 44 Democrats have publicly said they won't vote to end debate on Gorsuch's nomination, meaning he won't have the 60 votes needed to end debate. If McConnell prevails, then the GOP can confirm Gorsuch - and any future Trump high court nominees - with a simple majority vote.

"We are at a historic moment in the history of the United States Senate" due to actions by both parties, Coons said.

Senator Jeff Merkley was filibustering the vote on Trump-appointed Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch with the bulk of the Democratic party behind him.

Even so, both Republicans and Democrats know that changing the rules for Supreme Court nominees will make the Senate and the high court more partisan, and the finger-pointing is in high gear.

McConnell told reporters he was confident there were enough votes to change the rules.

"Since you can't have one rule for Democrat presidents and another rule for Republican presidents, this judge will be on the Supreme Court sometime Friday night", Sen.

On April 3, the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch for the late Antonin Scalia's Supreme Court seat. A fourth Senate Democrat, Michael Bennet from Gorsuch's home state of Colorado, has said he will not join in the filibuster against Gorsuch but has not said how he will vote on final passage. The committee's 11 Republicans voted for Gorsuch, while all nine of its Democrats voted against him.

With Democrats having enough votes to prevent Republicans from clearing that procedural hurdle, that vote is all but decided.

A vote on that "cloture" motion will take place Thursday.

Furthermore, Sen. Capito noted, filibustering the nominee "of a duly elected president", a nominee who enjoys the support of a majority of the Senate, is out of step. But rather than let the Democratic obstruction stand, McConnell and Republicans plan to enact a unilateral rules change to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. It would lower the vote threshold from the current 60 to a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. A few fearless souls in the academy fought these notions, none more strenuously than the late law professor and Justice Antonin Scalia, who, with a few other intrepid traditionalists, still argued that it was for the legislatures and the people themselves to create any legal changes. "Or they could consult with us and reconsider Judge Gorsuch's nomination".

"We believe that what Republicans did to Merrick Garland was worse than a filibuster", declared Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "It would symbolize to the American people that Mitch McConnell would virtually do anything, anything, even hurting the Senate to get his way on the court".

The Senate's "nuclear option" is a monumental event, but the procedure itself is quite mundane.

Arizona Republican John McCain said, "I fear that someday we will regret what we are about to do".

Merkley's 15.5-hour filibuster is a testament to the Democratic party's dedication to this goal, and whatever happens next will shape the Senate for years to come.

And Democrats remain livid over McConnell's decision last year to deny consideration to then-President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, who was ignored for almost a year by Senate Republicans after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. Up until McConnell's direct confirmation Tuesday that he had the 50 votes required-with Vice President Pence as a tiebreaker-to change the rules around Supreme Court confirmations, GOP leaders avoided answering the question directly and preferred to say that they had the votes to confirm Gorsuch when asked about the GOP whip count for the nuclear option.

  • Julie Sanders