Democrats vote to filibuster Gorsuch in first act of nuclear showdown

Senate Republicans on Thursday ended the Democratic filibuster of US Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch by changing the Senate's rules for voting on those nominees. Four years later the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, is now signalling his willingness to end filibusters for Supreme Court nominations, too.

The move by Republicans came after Senate Democrats blocked Gorsuch's nomination from advancing to a final vote earlier in the day.

But the next 24 hours could be among the most bitter in recent Senate history.

Meanwhile, Adam Jentleson took to the pages of the New York Times to support the filibuster against the Gorsuch nomination.

The change, which will now apply going forward, effectively ends the ability of a party in the minority to filibuster a president's Supreme Court nominee.

"The cooling saucer of the Senate will get considerably hotter", Schumer warned. But Republicans control 52 of 100 seats, and with U.S. politics so bitterly divided, Republicans are unlikely to sway enough Democrats to move Gorsuch's nomination forward.

McConnell blamed the escalation of fights over judicial nominees on the Democrats and their opposition starting three decades ago to nominees made by Republican former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush.

The Supreme Court was exempted as part of a deal bringing along Democrats reluctant to change the rules. Merkley held the Senate floor through the nigh.

Debate on Gorsuch's nomination officially began Tuesday and was dominated into Wednesday by Sen. President Johnson, not wanting to embarrass a friend, engineered a 45-43 cloture vote, so that Fortas could save face and "stay on the Court with his head up".

Sixty senators must agree for the debate to end. As such, he recalls, Democrats were robbed of the White House and the Supreme Court, for Bush appointed two justices of his choosing - John Roberts and Samuel Alito. That temporary victory for Democrats is expected to spark contentious procedural maneuvering.

"If the Senate changes its precedents for the consideration of Supreme Court nominees, it could be reversed", she said. It now takes more than that, 60 votes, to clear parliamentary hurdles and set up an up-or-down vote on the nominee. This is considered such a dramatic break from Senate tradition that it's called the "nuclear option", the hyperventilated term revealing how highly the Senate regards itself.

Then will come the crucial moment.

McConnell was overruled, but appealed the ruling.

Collins said this week that the rules change was "clearly" going to happen.

They were both talking about the same thing: the GOP's potential use of the so-called "nuclear option" to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

"Gorsuch did himself no favors in that hearing", said Ian Millhiser, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. "They would stack the court with ideological soulmates".

Iowa Sen. Chuck Grassley, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, was equally poetic in an angry speech aimed at Democrats who were filibustering. Jon Tester, D-Mont., whose state passed tough campaign finance laws that were struck down by a Republican-appointed judge. The 60-vote threshold in the Senate has been "the guardrail of our democracy. when it comes to the courts, the guardrails are being dismantled".

"I fear the Senate I would be defending no longer exists", Leahy said. "[Sen. Mitch] McConnell has just put a knife into the heart of our We the People republic". "And we haven't, so it's permanent damage to the body".

Democrats said they opposed Mr Gorsuch, 49, because they felt he had shown favour to corporations ahead of workers.

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, a Republican, said that there was "fault on both sides" for Thursday's events.

  • Salvatore Jensen