By now, you're likely aware of the background and dynamics ahead of this brewing Senate battle -- as more Democrats announce their support for Chuck Schumer's anti-Gorsuch filibuster, premised on an imaginary '60 vote' standard he conjured in his head with little factual support. The latest bandwagon-jumper is former Clinton running mate Tim Kaine, whose embrace of this obstructionist tactic is, shall we say, noteworthy, in light of his stance in favor of extending the Reid Rule and further nuking the filibuster on behalf of Hillary's would-be Supreme Court nominees. I'm not sure Democrats' self-interested double standards on these issues can be distilled down into a purer form than Kaine's new and expired positions. As an aside, Kaine's weak rationale for seeking to block Gorsuch is the judge's supposed activism against abortion rights. Not only does this claim have virtually no basis in Gorsuch's actual record, it's an interesting attack coming from a politician who touted his support for the "sanctity of life" and various abortion restrictions as recently as 2005. At some point, Kaine apparently recognized that an inviolable litmus test for advancement in the modern Democratic Party was adopting a dogmatic commitment to abortion fanaticism, and shifted accordingly. In any case, lest there was any doubt about Democrats' almost comical unseriousness on Gorsuch, Chuck Schumer laid them to rest yesterday.
Schumer on Democrats facing a tough vote on Gorsuch: He did not acquit himself well at the hearings and did not impress our caucus— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) March 28, 2017
Back on planet earth, virtually every remotely neutral observer agreed that Gorsuch performed exceptionally well in his hearings. Indeed, several Senators who'd previously expressed support for an up-or-down vote on Gorsuch have since reversed course, under extreme pressure from the party's dominant hard left flank. Meanwhile, their new "requiring 60 votes isn't a filibuster" spin has already been flatly rejected by fact-checkers. It's quite something to watch Democrats and liberal activists mumble about Gorsuch being "out of the mainstream" when his rulings have been in the majority 99 percent of the time over his career as a judge (97 percent of which were unanimous), and given the public's verdict that he's well within the American mainstream:
Politico poll: Americans support Gorsuch confirmation by 21-point margin, fewer than one-in-four are opposed: pic.twitter.com/T7lvvsyuTQ— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 29, 2017
Neil Gorsuch is "out of the mainstream" only as defined by a marginal group of hardened activists and their relatively narrow constituency. But it's that constituency that is calling the plays inside the Democratic huddle, and thus it's looking more and more like this story got it right -- Senate Democrats are preparing to launch the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in US history. The Washington Post talked to moderate-leaning compromisers in both parties and found that virtually everyone is talking as if Democrats are, indeed, about to trigger this confrontation:
Sens. Roger E. Wicker (R-Miss.) and Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.) are not usually partisan firebrands, particularly on presidential appointments. Back in 2013, Wicker helped temporarily defuse a showdown over Republican filibusters of President Barack Obama’s nominees to the judiciary and agencies. More than a decade ago, Carper voted to confirm President George W. Bush’s first Supreme Court nominee and opposed Democratic efforts to filibuster the other. Now, with about 10 days left in the showdown over President Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, both Wicker and Carper have turned dour in their outlook for what the battle means for the Senate — and the country. Wicker is all but certain that Democrats have enough votes to block Gorsuch’s confirmation next week with a filibuster — by demanding a procedural step that takes 60 votes to clear. That, in turn, probably would prompt the Republicans to change the rules unilaterally to allow Gorsuch’s confirmation, and all other Supreme Court picks thereafter, by a simple majority. “I think it’s a done deal,” Wicker said Tuesday. “That’s the way it’s headed.” Carper agreed...[Susan] Collins doesn’t see a bipartisan pact coming together and said lawmakers should fight over the next vacancy on the court: “I think it would be wise of the Democrats to vote for him and live to fight another day.”
The Post describes statements from Lindsey Graham and Susan Collins, two of three remaining members of 2005's 'Gang of 14,' as adopting a "hard line tone." In other words, yes, this may really be happening. As I've written before, conservatives should probably be rooting for a Gorsuch filibuster. It's so obviously baseless and unreasonable that Republicans would really have no choice but to apply the Reid Rule to secure confirmation. That would rip the proverbial bandaid off ahead of the next SCOTUS battle, which could present a more difficult PR campaign for Republicans if Democrats had played ball on Gorsuch. Instead, they're overreaching -- as usual -- and possibly paving the way for simple majority confirmations of at least two Trump picks to the High Court.
Because my analysis on this matter may understandably come across as sharply partisan, it's probably worth mentioning that if I believed that Democrats would maintain the filibuster if the roles were reversed, I wouldn't be cheerleading for a nuclear detonation here; I've been circumspect and cautious on this front in the past. But Democrats' conduct and words (see the Kaine bit above) leave zero doubt that they'd unilaterally abandon this standard in a heartbeat. It's what they've always done. It would therefore be insane for Repbulicans to unilaterally disarm. And speaking of this relevant history, some liberals are lamely attempting to justify Democrats' planned blockade as retribution for Merrick Garland, whom Republicans dismissed under the Biden Rule, and after Harry Reid's massive 2013 provocation (also recall that the GOP attempted blocked neither of Obama's first two SCOTUS selections prior to Reid's power grab). But Reid had "no choice" but to nuke the filibuster at the time, we're told, because the GOP's obstruction of President Obama's judges was "unprecedented." Wrong again:
But the GOP's obstruction of Obama's judicial picks was "unprecedented!" Nope. Plus, Bush's confirmed judges also waited longer on average: pic.twitter.com/2ZnXzTbA9i— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 29, 2017
Obama had a higher percentage of district and circuit court judges confirmed by the Senate over his first term than did his Republican predecessor (Reid went nuclear early on in Obama's second term). Bush nominees also waited longer to be confirmed, on average. And by 2013, the GOP had only outright defeated two of Obama's picks (using the filibuster tactic Democrats pioneered under Bush, then nuked when Republicans responded in kind), whereas Democrats torpedoed five of Bush's nominees. The historical record is clear: From the Bork smear-fest, to the Thomas witch hunt, to unprecedented forms of obstructionism in the Bush era, to the 2013 nuclear option, the Democratic Party has consistently and unapologetically led the charge in advancing ends-justify-the-means partisanship on judicial confirmations. They wish to hold their opposition to a separate set of rules, squealing with victimhood whenever their own escalations are turned against them. Without fail, they proceed to escalate even further -- this time, it appears, with another unprecedented act of partisan aggression. Republicans are sick of being shoved around by their manipulative colleagues, too many of whom are plainly acting in bad faith. If Democrats follow through on this latest threat, McConnell's caucus must do what is necessary. Democrats started this fight; Republicans should finish it, especially because Democrats will undoubtedly do the same down the line. I'll leave you with this accurate piece of framing: