Sen. Jeff Merkley spoke for over 15 hours, protesting the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch, saying how this seat on the high court is stolen, and that the integrity of the courts would be undermined for decades if the Senate confirms him. Yes, a man who received the American Bar Association’s highest rating is going to denigrate the courts. This is bath salts logic, but Merkley has been one of Gorsuch’s early (and vocal) opponents. He’s from a blue state. And his base is frothing at the mouth to go all-out war, even in the face of defeat. Tomorrow, it’s likely that the Senate GOP will nuke the filibuster rules, allowing Gorsuch, an eminently qualified candidate with impeccable academic credentials to go along with it, to be confirmed by a simple majority.
Before that happens, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) decided to launch a counterstrike against the liberal hysteria, torching his Democratic colleagues for their hypocrisy over this unprecedented filibuster. His first target was Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who said that you couldn’t just filibuster a SCOTUS nominee just because you disagree with him or her. She said this in 2006, when some Senate Democrats were mulling blocking Samuel Alito. The Arkansas Senator also cited President Obama, who was a senator at the time—for joining the effort to block Alito.
Even those who oppose Judge Gorsuch used to sing a different tune about the standards for judicial confirmation. For instance, the senior senator from California put it best when she said: "I think when it comes to filibustering a Supreme Court appointment, you really have to have something out there, whether it's gross moral turpitude or something that comes to the surface." Speaking of a previous Republican president's nominee, she further said, "Now, I mean, this is a man I might disagree with. That doesn't mean he shouldn't be on the court."
In fact, President Obama filibustered a Supreme Court nomination while he was a senator, yet later expressed regret over that decision. He said, "I think that, historically, if you look at it, regardless of what votes particular senators have taken, there's been a basic consensus, a basic understanding, that the Supreme Court is different. And each caucus may decide who's going to vote where and what but that basically you let the vote come up, and you make sure that a well-qualified candidate is able to join the bench, even if you don't particularly agree with them."
Cotton added that Democrats were very different animals last year, where they said they would invoke the nuclear option to get Hillary Clinton’s nominees through should she win the election. Donald Trump’s upset victory torpedoed those plans. He cited Reid’s remarks about nuking the rules for non-SOCTUS judicial nominations, setting the foundation for confirming Supreme Court nominees by a simple majority. He also read past statements by Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA), who also made similar overtures about the Supreme Court and the nuclear option last year.
“The Constitution does not give me the right to block a qualified nominee no matter who’s in the White House…a minority in the Senate should not be able to block qualified nominees,” said Cotton, reading the past remarks of Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).
Yeah, Senate Democrats are just bitter that Trump is president, and that Republicans blocked Merrick Garland—Obama’s initial nominee to fill the vacancy left by the late Antonin Scalia. Well, you can’t always get what you want, folks. And now not only will Gorsuch be confirmed, but also should a second vacancy occur (one that does alter the balance of the Court)—it won’t be much of a fight.