Don’t do it, Democrats. Don’t give in to mobocracy by trying to delay a vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch this week.
The temptations of Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s planned filibuster are obvious. Yes, your justifiably angry base demands tit-for-tat retribution for the disrespect shown President Barack Obama and his final high court nominee, Merrick Garland.
But Gorsuch is going to serve. You are not going to get a better nominee from a Republican president. And that Garland was wronged is no reason to try to block Gorsuch.
Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri knows all of this, made many of these same points herself in audio leaked to The Star, then announced Friday that she had decided to join her party’s filibuster of President Donald Trump’s pick anyway.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Kansas City Star
Only, we need a fully functioning Supreme Court right about now and have since Justice Antonin Scalia died in February of last year. Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota have said they’ll join 52 Republicans in supporting Gorsuch.
One of the most disingenuous things the nominee said during his marathon confirmation hearing was that if Trump had asked him to help overturn Roe v. Wade, he “would have walked out the door.” Right, or maybe just said, “Haha! Good one, sir.”
Still, the federal appeals court judge from Denver is qualified, and the only real reason to vote against him is to make a point. And in the process continue the dysfunction that Democrats were so down on back when the GOP was the “party of No.”
Some Democrats also want to hold off on a vote until we know more about Trump’s Russia connections, but even if their impeachment dreams come true, a President Mike Pence is not going to be nominating Amy Klobuchar or Ketanji Brown Jackson.
And the filibuster protects the minority party.
In the leaked audio, McCaskill said, “Let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that we turn down Gorsuch, that there are not eight Democrats that vote to confirm him and therefore there’s not enough to put him on the Supreme Court. What then?”
Here’s what: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has threatened to kill the filibuster for Supreme Court appointments if the maneuver is used against Gorsuch.
If McConnell has 51 votes and the will to follow through on using the so-called “nuclear option,” majority-rule for such appointments would without question advantage Republicans for now.
The argument that thwarting the Democratic base on Gorsuch and the filibuster would doom the party in the 2018 midterms seems less likely under the galvanizing influence of the current president. Every day, Trump does something new that would turn out the Democratic vote.
In announcing her opposition to Gorsuch and support for the filibuster, McCaskill said that she does, nevertheless, “remain very worried about our polarized politics and what the future will bring, since I’m certain we will have a Senate rule change that will usher in more extreme judges in the future.”
We remain worried about that, too.