Republicans Should Use Nuclear Option for Neil Gorsuch Confirmation to US Supreme Court


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell guaranteed this week that Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court on April 7. If that’s to occur, it looks almost certain that McConnell will have to cast aside tradition and overhaul Senate rules allowing filibusters to occur for Supreme Court Nominees. This overhaul of Senate Rules has been dubbed the ‘nuclear option’. To Mitch, I say this, “Go nuclear”. For those of you that haven’t really been paying attention to the fight over the Supreme Court, here’s the quick recap. This guy, Justice Antonin Scalia, died in February 2016. Obama nominated Merrick Garland was nominated to replace him. While certainly qualified, the liberal-leaning Judge would have altered the balance of the court. Scalia had been a conservative, and Garland is more liberal. So the Republicans came up with a nifty not to even hold hearings for Garland. They said that Supreme Court Nominees should not confirmed in an election year, and pointed to a speech in 1992 by Vice President Joe Biden as justification for their reasoning. Now with Trump in the White House, the Republicans have nominated Gorsuch, a conservative, to replace Scalia. And, quite understandably, the Democrats believe this is a stolen seat. Now, while the Republicans have a Senate majority, they need to overcome the filibuster to actually vote on Gorsuch’s nomination. With Democrats fuming over the stolen seat situation, only 2 Democrats have said they will support holding a vote. The Republicans need 8. Thus the Republicans have little choice but to go nuclear. Now I know the arguments against unilaterally changing the rulebook are extensive. First of all, someone will inevitably say that doing so diminishes bipartisanship. Then comes the argument that it removes protection for the minority. And finally, it will be pointed out that that the rule changes could be used against you in the future. All valid points. All inconsequential once thoroughly examined. On the first, let’s be clear. Bipartisanship on this issue died long ago. The filibuster was nearly killed off in the mid-2000s due to a Democratic blockade, and in 2103 Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid unilaterally overhauled Senate rules by eliminating the use of the filibuster on all presidential nominees except those to the U.S. Supreme Court. The fact of the matter is that had Clinton won the White House and Democrats ruled the Senate, any hint of a Republican blockade, would have resulted in this same nuclear option, rewriting they rule-book like the did a few years ago. Nowadays, unfortunately, bipartisanship is a word that most people say to try to score political points rather than advance solutions that would be beneficial to the country. Secondly, this idea that removing the filibuster removes protection for the minority completely misses the point. The Founding Fathers didn’t envision the minority as the minority party, but rather as those states with small populations. There’s a reason why states have 2 Senators regardless of the population. To protect the minority. And then you have the electoral college which is designed to do the exact same thing. The filibuster isn’t in the constitution for a reason. It’s not needed. Finally, there’s this argument that Republicans will live to rue the day they made these changes. Not anytime soon though. The 2018 Senate map is so unfavourable that the Democrats not only have to keep all their current seats, but they have to knock off the likes of Ted Cruz to reclaim the Senate. That’s right. Their path back to the majority runs through Texas. Chances are that Trump will have to make a second or potentially third-lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. If so, the Republicans will hold the majority, and be able to significantly alter the balance of the court’s ideology. And even if they don’t make any more appointments, this is still the better play from a risk-reward point of view. Because if the Democrats do take the Senate back in 2020, then sure, the filibuster won’t stop them. But it wouldn’t have stopped them in 2017 either. As I said, they would have gone nuclear too. So, all in all, Mitch should do it. He should make sure Senators like Susan Collins and John McCain are singing from the party playbook, rally the Republican Caucus, and do what was once unthinkable. They should press the big red button, and score Trump his first significant victory. Thanks for listening to Black Swan Politics Don’t forget to subscribe!

1 Response

  1. CenRen says:

    Good explanation.

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