Senior Senate Democrat: I'm Not Inclined To Support A Filibuster on Gorsuch

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Mar 27, 2017 1:00 PM
Senior Senate Democrat: I'm Not Inclined To Support A Filibuster on Gorsuch

As Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer tries to cobble the votes for a filibuster against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, he might find that some heavyweights in his party aren’t all that enthused about the idea. Moreover, blocking a qualified nominee for the sake of screwing over Trump will only push Senate Republicans to nuke the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, thereby ensuing that if a second vacancy opens up—and that is possible—the GOP will have no problems tilting the balance of the Court decidedly rightward. The Left is fighting a conservative who is filling a vacancy…left by a conservative. Congressional Democrats had very little powder to fight Trump, but after the death of heath care reform, they may be reevaluating their arsenal. In this case, it’s still an overreach, though I’ll let Guy handle the deep dive on this later.

As for top Senate Democrats who aren’t inclined to support a filibuster, one of them is Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT), who said that he probably wouldn’t vote for Gorsuch, but is not onboard with this inane attempt to block him (via VT Diggers):

The most senior senator, Leahy retains a vision for the chamber as one that promotes bipartisanship and compromise. Leahy has long expressed concern about the politicization of judicial nominees, and he does not support Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s decision to filibuster the Gorsuch nomination, which would effectively block a full Senate vote.

“I am not inclined to filibuster, even though I’m not inclined to vote for him,” Leahy said.

Arcane Senate rules currently hold that any Supreme Court nominee must receive 60 votes before he or she can be given a confirmation vote on the floor. With Republicans holding a 52-seat majority, current rules dictate that eight Democratic senators must vote “Yes” in a cloture vote to bring Gorsuch’s nomination before the Senate for a floor vote.

Around nine Senate Democrats said they support a hearing and a vote for Gorsuch, while the latter part of that statement remains to be seen. Could they be referring to the panel vote or do they actually mean cloture? If it’s cloture, then that’s the ballgame. But Cortney wrote how Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) said that Gorsuch will get an up-or-down vote, but fail to reach the 60-vote threshold (that’s not what up-or-down means, Senator), noting that Senate Republicans will be forced to nuke the filibuster rules. Frankly, if Democrats want to force us to finish what Harry Reid started, then I’m okay with that. Liberal America will be forced to accept a conservative Supreme Court majority for the next generation.

Someone familiar with the process told Townhall that while the Democrats are beating their chests about a filibuster, it’s still far from a sure thing. There are scores of red state Democrats running for re-election next year in states that Trump won decidedly, who may not be happy about Schumer’s attempt to Stuka dive bomb Gorsuch.

“These Democratic claims about him not getting 60 votes I think are premature. Could definitely happen, but Leahy said today he's not inclined to back a filibuster,” this source said. “If you combine that with other like-minded Democrats who don't want to let GOP go nuclear on Gorsuch, plus the Trump-state guys (Manchin, Heitkamp, Tester, Donnelly, McCaskill) getting 60 [votes] seems feasible. I'd say 35% chance, which is a lot more than guys like Coons & [DNC chair] Tom Perez are giving it.”

So, there’s a prediction that Senate Democrats have a 35 percent chance of successfully pulling this off. Conventional wisdom says to fight another day (i.e. the second vacancy), but the progressive base is demanding all-out war. While Republicans were embarrassed by health care, it looks as if Democrats are running full steam into an iceberg on Gorsuch.