On Tuesday night, our current president announced, in a prime time address, he was nominating Neil Gorsuch, currently a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left after the passing of conservative justice Antonin Scalia almost one year ago today.
There has been an ongoing debate in Democratic Party circles over what to do on this issue ever since Donald Trump upset Hillary Clinton in last November’s election.
Liberal activists are spoiling for a fight and want the party to filibuster the nominee. From a personal standpoint, I am 100% on this side. I am not one to call for obstruction from a political party, but this is one fight Democrats should be more than willing to wage.
Some Democrats; journalists, commentators, and politicians alike; are making the argument that the party should let Gorsuch go through and wait until the next nominee to really pick a fight because, supposedly, they will have more leverage at that point.
A lot of smart people are making this argument, but to me, it is a pretty bad one.
The talk after the president’s announcement surrounding Mr. Gorsuch centered around he being a respected legal mind, who presented himself well, and had wide bipartisan support in the past. If this sounds familiar, it should, because it is what they were saying about Merrick Garland too.
Garland was nominated by President Obama last year and during his speech thanking the president, he was so overcome with joy that he teared up during his speech. But that didn’t stop Senate Republicans from refusing to even hold confirmation hearings for him because apparently presidents who are elected to four year terms are only allowed to appoint justices in years one through three.
And let’s not forget, these are the same Republicans who hinted at preventing Hillary Clinton from putting someone on the Court too. Ted Cruz and North Carolina Sen. Richard Burr were among the few who said they would try to execute such a strategy.
Now people want Democrats to just roll over and let the current nominee through? Yea, no.
They say Gorsuch being confirmed will not change the balance of the court from where it was before Scalia died. And while that is true, it is not the point.
The fact is Republicans prevented the realignment of the court from taking place last year. Garland was a compromise nominee and they still refused to let him through. Scalia’s seat was supposed to be filled by our last president. Not this one. Republicans stole this vacancy and there is no way in hell Democrats should let them get away with it.
If Mitch McConnell wants to nuke the filibuster, fine. Make him do it. Democrats will have no more leverage during the next nomination fight than they do right now. If anything, a nominee chosen to replace an Anthony Kennedy or Ruth Bader-Ginsburg will give Republicans even more of an incentive to get rid of the filibuster should Democrats try it.
This may be a losing battle regardless since there is a good chance the filibuster will gone sometime during this confirmation process, anyway. But that should not stop Senate Democrats from doing everything they can to hold this seat open until a Democrat is in the White House again.
At the very least, they will go down fighting. For once.