In 2013, Senate Democrats nuked the filibuster rules for non-Supreme Court presidential appointments. It had to be done in their eyes. Yet, as Senate Democrats made their announcement, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) mentioned how filibusters really should only be used for treaties and impeachment. Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) lamented that when it comes to majority rule, the risk of an up-or-down votes is preferred than total obstruction “no matter who is in power.” Flash-forward to 2017 and we have Democrats planning to block Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch because a) he was picked by President Trump; b) he’s right-leaning; and c) they’re still sour over Merrick Garland, Obama’s initial pick to fill the late Antonin Scalia’s seat, being blocked by Senate Republicans via Biden rule. Those don’t sound like good reasons to filibuster a nominee. Even Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) said that you couldn’t just filibuster a nominee just because you might disagree with him or her. She said this in 2006, when Democrats were mulling a filibuster of Samuel Alito, which a few did try. Feinstein and Barack Obama tried to block Alito and failed, despite the former saying that “gross moral turpitude” would be a prime example to mount such unprecedented obstruction.
Circling back to Reid, when asked whether he was worried that Republicans might expand on this—because no party is ever in the majority forever—the Senate’s biggest curmudgeon said “let ‘em do it.”
REPORTER: "Aren’t you worried Republicans will just get rid of the filibuster on the Supreme Court anyway?"
REID: "Let ’em do it, why in the world would we care? We were trying to protect everybody. I mean, they want simple majority, fine. I mean, all these threats about we’re going to change the rules more, as Senator Schumer said, ‘What is the choice?’ Continue like we are or have Democracy?”
Oh, that’s definitely on the table, Mr. Reid. Your party has unnecessarily played games with this nomination and now we’re going to finish what you started, so we can “have democracy.”
Thanks to all of you who encouraged me to consider filibuster reform. It had to be done.— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) November 21, 2013