Senate Democrats have stuck together on a handful of Trump nominations, but defections have been relatively common. And as we've concluded over the last number of weeks, despite furious bleating from the left-wing base, it doesn't appear as though there's much appetite among the rank-and-file to march in lockstep opposition to President Trump's exceptionally qualified Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch. The party's left flank it dead-set against him, of course, and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is half-heartedly playing along, but it increasingly looks like Gorsuch will get an up-or-down vote. Even the party's upper chamber leadership appears to be somewhat fractured. Schumer's second-in-command has been surprisingly consistent on this point; maybe he's playing the "good cop" in this act of the saga, and perhaps setting himself up to have the "credibility" to oppose whatever "extremist" Trump may nominate to the bench in the event of a second vacancy. Or maybe he's at the front of the Harry Reid regret line. In any case, when Dick Durbin from deep blue Illinois is making statements like these, the likelihood that a unified blockade is in the works is quite slim:
[Gorsuch] has introduced a measure of strain for those in the middle, who are seeking to negotiate the seething anger of liberal voters and an instinct for comity among lawmakers who have spent years lamenting what they have viewed as Republican bulldozing of Senate norms. “The base wants me to reject him out of hand,” said Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the body’s No. 2 Democrat, who will meet with Judge Gorsuch on Tuesday. “I don’t think that serves the country well.” Mr. Durbin added: “We’ve had a handful of Democratic senators who’ve already announced they’re voting no. Many people in some parts of the base think we should all make that announcement. I just don’t think that’s appropriate.” ... the passions of the moment, Mr. Durbin suggested, have caused some liberals to confuse responsible vetting and decorum with obsequiousness. “I don’t think it’s fair, after the speeches we made about fair treatment for Merrick Garland,” he said of calls for instant opposition. “I have a constitutional responsibility here.”
That New York Times story published earlier this week says that Democrats "remain furious at Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, for his refusal to hold a hearing on Judge Garland, leaving the seat open for nearly a year before Mr. Trump took office." Rather than seething at McConnell, they should direct their ire at Joe Biden, Chuck Schumer, and the aforementioned Mr. Reid -- and also themselves, for participating in their party's endless escalations in these nomination fights. Elsewhere, while people like New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen keep flipping and flopping all over the place in terms of where they stand on this confirmation process, Montana's Jon Tester is promising to give Gorsuch a "fair shake:"
That doesn't sound like he's a lock to vote "yes" on Gorsuch, but it certainly doesn't sound like he'll be joining a filibuster anytime soon. And remember, even if that's what 41 or more Democrats decide to do, Republicans have several potential responses up their sleeves. Tester is one of ten (I'd previously reported nine) Senate Democrats who are up for re-election in 2018 who represent states carried by Donald Trump last fall (Indiana, Florida, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and Wisconsin). You'd better believe that these sorts of decisions are weighing heavily on their minds as they pick and choose which issues to buck their lefty base on, and which bones they feel they can afford to toss to their party loyalists without alienating their more conservative overall electorates. Before you go, if you haven't already, read Leah's post from yesterday about the joint letter signed by 39 of Judge Gorsuch's former law clerks from across the ideological spectrum attesting to his character and professionalism. Also, read Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley's USA Today op/ed critiquing some of his Democratic opponents' double standards. Given this mounting evidence and his productive goodwill tour on Capitol Hill, it's hard to imagine Gorsuch not getting confirmed, barring a major unforeseen setback or revelation. And by the way, mark your calendars:
NEWS ALERT: Gorsuch confirmation hearing set for March 20. pic.twitter.com/Kq8ps9HsaJ— Fox News (@FoxNews) February 16, 2017