Regular readers are aware that we've been keeping tabs on Senate Democrats' views on the Gorsuch SCOTUS nomination, as we attempt to read the tea leaves on whether opposition will materialize in the form of a 41-vote filibuster blockade. The defections and potential defections keep rolling in, perhaps dashing leftists' hopes for a bruising confirmation fight in which Senate Republicans are confronted with the decision whether or not to carry on Harry Reid's legacy in accordance with Tim Kaine's pre-election threat regarding the 'nuclear option.' The more I see, the more it looks like Democrats will pass on the filibuster, much to the resentment of their base; it's likely smart strategy, for reasons we'll review in a moment. But first, here's California liberal Dianne Feinstein (who, along with every other upper chamber Democrat at the time, voted to confirm Gorsuch in 2006) declaring herself impressed with President Trump's pick for the High Court:
She's not committing to a vote per se, but quotes like "he’s a very caring person and he’s obviously legally very smart...I think we are dealing with someone who is impressive, so we’ll see” aren't what you'd expect to hear from a blue state Democrat in advance of a scorched-earth partisan brawl. Their hardcore grassroots will squeal, but it appears as though the emerging Democratic strategy may be to allow a relatively smooth (by their standards) confirmation for Gorsuch, with some loud, token opposition from those Senate liberals who want to impress the base. The idea is that swapping Scalia for Gorsuch is more or less an even trade: One conservative constitutionalist for another. It doesn't tip the balance of the Court. But if there's another opening? That's when a showdown is likelier to occur, as even the replacement of "swing" justice Anthony Kennedy -- let alone a liberal like Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- with an established conservative would shift the ideological makeup of the Court rightward. Democrats may be in the process of deciding to keep the SCOTUS filibuster intact to create more leverage over a second potential vacancy. But that doesn't mean that Chuck Schumer isn't going to go through the motions of ardent opposition, because that's what the party faithful are demanding:
Please direct your attention to this post about a WaPo fact-check on Schumer's amusingly hypocritical '60 votes' standard, which didn't apply to the last four Democrat-appointed justices. Two sitting Republican-appointed justices were also confirmed with fewer than 60 votes, as Democrats have increasingly refused to pay deference to presidential prerogative in these matters. Here's a FactCheck.org slap-down of Bernie Sanders' spin, as well. And also be sure to check out Ed Morrissey's response to Schumer's Politico op/ed linked above. Ed points out some glaring omissions in the minority leader's argument:
What’s rather remarkable about this piece — it’s short and easy to read in full — is that it barely mentions Gorsuch himself, and makes no case that his confirmation is problematic. That makes some sense, given that Senate Democrats confirmed him to the appellate court by acclamation over a decade ago. That includes every current member of Senate Democratic leadership, including Schumer himself. Furthermore, Schumer’s essay contains exactly zero acknowledgement of the fact that his party put the 60-vote threshold on the chopping block with its own exercise of the nuclear option in late 2013. Schumer complains that Trump wants “to rewrite the Senate rules” for Republicans and “demanded” that Mitch McConnell “deploy the so-called nuclear option,” without even a note to point out that he and Harry Reid created the precedent to do so. In fact, the whole piece reads as if it’s Trump that’s getting confirmed, without a mention at all that his own party’s bare-knuckled tactics and especially Harry Reid’s character assassinations from the well of the Senate had nothing to do with Trump’s political emergence or their own exile into the political wilderness.
Schumer, as usual, wants to impose different roles for conservatives than those he's willing to abide by. Gone are the good old days, lo those very few months ago, when Schumer's deep concern with installing a ninth justice surpassed all political considerations:
It's okay to chuckle at this guy's weapons-grade shamelessness. And it's definitely fine to laugh a little harder knowing that he's probably strategically on board with confirming Gorsuch, and the hardball stuff is mostly a political pantomime aimed at appeasing the Left's true believers. I'll leave you with a round-up of leading liberal legal scholars conceding that, yeah, Neil Gorsuch is eminently qualified for the gig. Here's one particularly strong endorsement:
For moderate Democrats, Judge Gorsuch is as good as it gets, writes E. Donald Elliot: https://t.co/l93dY3Us2Q— WSJ Editorial Page (@WSJopinion) February 7, 2017
UPDATE - Newly re-elected blue state Democrat Jeanne Shaheen has now called for an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch. The likelihood of wrangling 41 votes for a filibuster is looking slimmer by the day: