“Some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention. It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. That is what is fair to the nominee and essential to the process. Otherwise, it seems to me, we will be in deep trouble as an institution.” – Joe Biden 1992 Senate Floor Speech
It was only a few weeks back in my blog “Democrats – Total War for Dummies” I wrote how the Left would be engaging in a counterproductive strategy of obstructionism and identity politics against President Trump and Republicans. It seems this week the battlefield has moved to the SCOTUS nomination process as Senate Democrats will take the unprecedented step of partisan filibustering of Neil Gorsuch nomination to the high court. Of course after failing to embarrass or trip him up during the confirmation hearings they are now erroneously declaring that he is not in the mainstream of judicial thought and declaring without citing specific examples his performance and written answers. Of course if you viewed any of the confirmation hearings then you are aware that the Democrats failed to score any soundbites of substance from which they could launch relevant attacks that would resonate with anyone other than the very extreme Left of the party. In fact Neil Gorsuch’s calm demeanor and crisp answers were more of a clinic of how Republicans should face confirmation hearings going forward than an indictment of his character.
At this point Democrats are too invested in the narrative that Neil Gorsuch is a right wing extremist to back out now and must move forward with the filibuster least they lose donations and support of the very vocal minority of Democrats. I would argue that it would not have mattered who President Trump had nominated as they were planning on blocking any nominee not named Merrick Garland. This is for a myriad of reasons, but chief among them they feel that the SCOTUS pick was stolen from them, they are still smarting from their unexpected election lost and most importantly they do not view President Trump as the legitimate POTUS. Many pundits (and some Democratic Senators) have argued that an all-out attack on this particular nominee would ultimately prove not only ineffectual, but in the end would expend political capital used better fighting other battles. Despite the mounting evidence that filibuster is the wrong strategy, Chuck Schumer looks to be moving forward to a showdown in the Senate that he IS going to lose. The Republicans will invoke the nuclear option if necessary and Neil Gorsuch will be named the next justice of SCOTUS.
For the Republicans it is critical that they do not back down at this point in time. If the Republicans spare the filibuster rule now for SCOTUS picks it will only be abolished at the first opportunity that the roles are reversed. If Republicans believe that the Democrats would allow 200 years of tradition to stand between them and enacting their agenda then you are sadly mistaken. The Democrats have zero qualms about breaking Senate traditions in order to achieve their goals. In the last few years we have seen Democrats remove the filibuster rule from lower court and cabinet picks, testify against other Senators in confirmation hearings, boycott inaugurations, call for impeachment without evidence and act like children with sit-ins on the Senate floor. Democrats only consider Senate rules to be sacrosanct as long as they can use them against Republicans, but the first time that they become a hindrance to enacting their policy or agenda then they become dated guidelines of a bygone era that are entirely optional.
As the Left was happy to remind Conservatives for the last eight years, “Elections have consequences.” Republicans need to begin acting like the party that holds all the cards because at this moment in time they do. If Democrats want to make SCOTUS nominations a political battleground then let them die on this hill and unleash the nuclear option. President Trump will have 2-4 more picks if he goes two terms and combining that with the road already paved by the Senate with the removal of the filibuster for lower court appointees then Republicans have the ability to reshape the judicial landscape for a generation. It will be an opportunity to appoint judges that will interpret the laws as written instead of trying to make laws that fit a judge’s personal politics. Republicans can no longer mourn the loss of Senate traditions because Democrats certainly have not in the past. If the Democrats will not allow the nomination to be put a vote Republicans have no choice, but to invoke the nuclear option.