Showdown over Court nominee
- Author: Salvatore Jensen Apr 07, 2017,
Apr 07, 2017, 4:33
In a messy political floor fight Thursday, the Republican-controlled Senate eliminated the filibuster for nominees to the Supreme Court, an unprecedented order made to sidestep a Democratic blockade of Judge Neil Gorsuch to become an Associate Justice on the highest court in the land. An initial motion to end debate failed 55-45, falling five votes short of the 60 needed to end a filibuster before the rule change.
Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of OR blasted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in a fiery tweet Thursday for invoking the so-called nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. And, toward the end of President George H.W. Bush's administration, then-Senator Biden said no Supreme Court nominee should be confirmed "once the political season is underway". Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., said on the Senate floor as he wrapped up a 15-and-a-half-hour overnight talk-a-thon to underscore his party's opposition to Gorsuch.
In a statement this week, Leahy announced that he would not vote to advance Gorsuch's nomination. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer should do their opening remarks.
Ending the filibuster also would make it easier for future Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed when the president and Senate leadership belong to the same party.
But even prior to that, there was the 1987 nomination of Robert Bork, who was defeated by both Democrats and some Republicans who feared he was too conservative. "In fact, I am confident we will", said Sen.
Scalia died February 13, 2016, andhis death left the remaining four liberal-leaning and four conservative-leaning justices without a tiebreaker.
The move does not affect legislation, which can still be stalled by filibuster if it fails to get 60 votes.
The number of Supreme Court justices in our country's history who have been denied their seats by filibuster is zero, with one possible exception.
"It's been our belief since election night that Democrats' job is to do everything they can to block Trump's interest and agenda", said Heidi Hess, the senior campaign manager for Credo Action.
Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of ME said roughly 10 senators of both parties worked over the weekend to come up with a deal to stave off the so-called "nuclear option", as the rules change is known, but couldn't come to agreement.
The nomination of Judge Gorsuch should be decided - as Supreme Court nominations have always been for 230 years - by a majority vote.
Democrats opposed Gorsuch for a variety of reasons, including his conservative judicial philosophy, dissatisfaction with his answers during his confirmation hearings and a simmering resentment towards McConnell's decision to block any consideration of President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland past year.
Senate Democrats have blocked President Donald Trump's nominee to the Supreme Court. Merkley was not delaying any Senate procedures, unlike the Democrats promise to filibuster Thursday, which prompted the rule change. If Republicans threatened not only to nuke the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees but to nuke it entirely, Schumer might back off.
"Today's changes to the Senate's rules have done lasting damage to the Supreme Court and our process for approving nominees", Bennet said in a news release. And despite claims from Schumer and others that Trump and Republicans could go back to the drawing board and come up with a more "mainstream" nominee, it seems unlikely that any nominee produced by Trump would win Democrats' approval. There aren't enough Democrats willing to do that, so Republicans are poised to lower the threshold to cut off a Democratic filibuster.