The Gorsuch confirmation battle is well underway, with Republican-aligned groups applying early pressure to 'Trump state' Democrats, who face a quandary: Stand by their rhetoric and standards from the Garland standoff and help pave the way for an up-or-down vote on Judge Gorsuch? Or appease the party's left-wing base, which is demanding a pitched political war, and risk angering their pro-Trump constituents in the process? The Democratic Party is openly split on the best course of action, and conservative groups are seeking to deepen those divisions by keeping the heat on. Here's a new ad from the National Republican Senatorial Committee targeting Indiana's Joe Donnelly, which they're billing as the first commercial of the -- gulp -- 2018 election cycle. "The people have spoken:"
Elsewhere, the Judicial Crisis Network is in the process of launching a $10 million blitz in support of the Gorsuch nomination:
The conservative group Judicial Crisis Network on Tuesday night launched a $10 million, multi-media ad campaign in support of President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee -- getting a jump on the looming Senate fight as progressive and liberal-leaning groups gear up to oppose Trump’s pick. “This is the type of partisan politics the American people just rejected in November,” said JCN chief counsel Carrie Severino. The group will begin by spending $2 million-plus on TV and online ads in Washington, D.C., and in Indiana, Missouri, North Dakota and Montana, states that Trump won by at least 19 percent...Severino made clear Tuesday that the JCN’s effort will include targeting Senate Democrats determined to block any Trump Supreme Court nomination, particular those seeking reelection in 2018. “Our campaign will be holding the Senate Democrats … accountable for their choice," she said in a written statement.
Notice that they're not even bothering to spend resources in West Virginia, as Joe Manchin has already shut down any possibility that he'd join a filibuster against President Trump's nominee. Meanwhile, the Washington Post's fact checker has awarded Chuck Schumer -- who can feel the hard Left breathing down his neck, and who refused to meet with Gorsuch -- 'Two Pinocchios' for his "60 vote standard" spin. Setting aside the fact that Republicans did not filibuster the first two SCOTUS nominees put forward by presidents Clinton and Obama (all four were confirmed easily), there are other issues with this talking point:
Democrats are being slippery with their language. Sixty votes is not “a standard” for Supreme Court confirmations, as two of the current justices on the court did not meet that supposed standard. There is a separate issue of whether Republicans will have to invoke cloture to end a filibuster — and whether Gorsuch could meet the necessary 60 votes to proceed to a confirmation vote. In Supreme Court nominations, that’s a rarely used parliamentary tactic that is certainly available to Democrats to establish a threshold for confirmation. But it’s not “a standard.”
Who are the sitting justices who were confirmed with fewer than 60 votes? Samuel Alito and Clarence Thomas, both of whom were appointed by Republican presidents. Democrats have consistently been the aggressors in these partisan battles over confirmations, and Republicans have generally shown more deference. That finally changed after Harry Reid blew up the filibuster to strip the GOP of a tool (surprise!) Democrats had pioneered to obstruct President Bush's judicial picks when they were previously in the minority, thus allowing President Obama to stack the lower courts. The GOP has started applying the Democrats' operating procedures to the current situation, much to the anger and frustration of Democrats. Tough luck. In case you missed it, the Wall Street Journal's Thursday editorial spelling out the relevant history on this subject is a must-read:
The “theft” is supposedly the GOP Senate’s refusal last year to vote on President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat. But the standard of not confirming a Supreme Court nominee in the final year of a Presidency was set by . . . Democrats. And by no less a Beltway monument than the current Senate Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer. “We should not confirm any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, except in extraordinary circumstances,” Mr. Schumer declared in a July 2007 speech to the American Constitution Society. Democrats then held the Senate and Mr. Schumer was putting down a marker if someone on the High Court retired. George W. Bush didn’t get another opening, but Mr. Schumer surely meant what he said. The Democratic theft standard goes back further to Joe Biden’s days as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee...if forced to do so, Mr. McConnell can also invoke a Democratic precedent. Mr. Reid broke the filibuster to pack Mr. Obama’s nominees on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals, and last year he said Democrats would do the same for the Supreme Court if Mrs. Clinton won the election and his party held the Senate...Judge Gorsuch is such a distinguished nominee that he ought to be confirmed 100-0, but if Democrats try and fail to defeat him, the world should know that they are the authors of their own political frustration.
Democrats want hardball power plays to work exclusively in their favor, but turnabout is fair play. They've made this bed, and now they're lying in it. I'll leave you with two rebuttals to the Left's pitifully weak distortions of Judge Grouch's record. They've got nothing. Which is why reflexive obstructionism is back in vogue on that side of the aisle: