The Supreme Court Battle Lines Are Drawn

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After a year of denying Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, so much as the courtesy of a hearing and a vote, the Republican leadership of the Senate has suddenly rediscovered its belief in moving such nominations forward. Democrats have expressed anger, and opposition, but have been loath to call explicitly for a filibuster.

That changed today, bigly. To put it in terms Game Of Thrones nerds (yes, I’m one, big shocker) can understand, the banners have now been called.

Senate Democrats are going to try to bring down Donald Trump’s Supreme Court pick no matter who the president chooses to fill the current vacancy.

With Trump prepared to announce his nominee on Tuesday evening, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick that is not Merrick Garland and that the vast majority of his caucus will oppose Trump’s nomination. That means Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.
“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
It’s a move that will prompt a massive partisan battle over Trump’s nominee and could lead to an unraveling of the Senate rules if Merkley is able to get 41 Democrats to join him in a filibuster. Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) also reminded her Twitter followers on Sunday night that Supreme Court nominees can still be blocked by the Senate minority, unlike all other executive and judicial nominees.

This is not what Mitch McConnell wants to hear. As the article notes, he’s not excited about changing the rules, which is now looking like his only option to get a Trump nominee seated. I’d add this: McConnell is much more comfortable in the role of saying “no” – doing nothing – than in affirmatively blowing up the rules via the nuclear option. He was surely hoping that the Democratic caucus would split between activist progressives and more cautious moderates. Donald Trump is making sure that such divisions get papered over and the more radical approach pursued.

Personally, after a generation of GOP destruction of all the norms of senatorial behavior, I’m ready for a fight. If a nominee is shot down, great. If the nuclear option is invoked, fine – Democrats will get the benefit when we’re in the majority too. There’s no downside here that I can see, not after the GOP shit the bed over the past year.

As if there’s not enough to fight about already, here’s another war with enormous and long-lasting consequences. Saddle up, check your ammo belts, and be ready to ride at dawn. Donald Trump makes his announcement tonight. Shots will be fired before the night ends.

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