New York Democratic Senator Kirsten Gillibrand had a come to Jesus moment last night. President Trump's Supreme Court nominee--Appellate Judge Neil Gorsuch--will probably fill the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia. She also said that even if Democrats hold the line with a cloture vote—the Senate Republicans would invoke the nuclear option. After that, a simple majority would be needed to end debate and confirm Judge Gorsuch. That’s the ballgame (via Politico):
One way or another, Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand predicted on Tuesday evening.
The New York Democrat said either Gorsuch will garner 60 votes or Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will rewrite the Senate rules to allow Gorsuch to be confirmed by a simple majority. It's a rare concession that Republicans will win what's shaping up to be a vicious fight between a Democratic base urging party leaders to fight President Donald Trump's pick and Republicans who have said they will confirm Gorsuch by any means necessary.
While Gillibrand urged her colleagues to "vote their conscience" on Gorsuch during an interview with New York news channel NY1, she said that regardless of Democratic tactics, "ultimately, yeah I believe he will be" approved.
Politico also added that Schumer believes that 60 votes would be needed to confirm Gorsuch, though that has never been the standard. The 60-vote cloture obstacle remains, but that’s been clinched over the past couple of weeks. Nine Democratic senators have gone on the record to say that Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote, meaning that there doesn’t appear to be much of an appetite to go to war with Gorsuch, unlike their colleague—Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR)—who said that he would block any nominee who isn’t Merrick Garland, the original judge picked by Obama to fill Scalia’s vacancy. Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) is risking the wrath of hard left progressives for saying that her meeting with Gorsuch left her impressed by him. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) knows the Democratic base wants him to reject Gorsuch, but later said, “I don’t think that serves the country well.” Durbin is one of the nine senators mentioned who have voiced their support for a hearing and a vote for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Trump has said the ball is in McConnell’s court on this one, but should trouble arise feel free to go nuclear. Given that nine Senate Democrats don’t want to go the way of obstruction, it doesn’t appear as if the nuclear options fears are warranted (for now). We’ll have to see how these hearings go, but I’m confident that Judge Gorsuch will do well.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has said that he will hold the line if Trump’s nominee isn’t mainstream (i.e. a liberal), though Gorsuch has accumulated prominent endorsement from liberals, including Obama’s former solicitor general. Numerous newspapers have said that Gorsuch is qualified, deserves a hearing, and should have a vote as well.
Gorsuch doesn’t have his confirmation hearing until next month, but it seems more likely that he’ll become our next Supreme Court justice. Democrats are keeping their powder dry for the next Supreme Court fight, which will decide the balance of the Court. That being said, they’re about to catch grief from their base, which just goes indiscriminately insane over anything the president does.
Justice Gorsuch. Get ready to officially write that down in the weeks to come.