Last year, we covered Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, including their misguided insistence on using the filibuster in an attempt to stop the nomination.  At that point, former Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) had eliminated the filibuster on lower court nominations but since there was no Supreme Court vacancy during his tenure as majority leader, Reid preserved the filibuster for the Supreme Court.

The “Reid rule” was expanded last year by Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to include the Supreme Court when Democrats made the puzzling decision to attempt to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination.  Urged on by their increasingly irrational base, Democrats went ahead and used the last card in their deck on Gorsuch, forcing McConnell’s hand.

Writing in March of last year, the prof noted:

Forcing Republicans to go nuclear for a highly qualified nominee like Gorsuch would be ultimately stupid for Democrats. Since there is likely to be at least one more, maybe more, openings during the Trump administration, going nuclear and eliminating the filibuster would clear the way for nominees the Democrats would find even more objectionable. There would be no reason for Republicans to hold back at all.

And so it has come to pass.

Democrats are completely powerless to stop the confirmation of recently nominated Brett Kavanaugh. Yet the pressure from their base is intense as they’ve whipped themselves into a frenzy of Kavanaugh derangement.  Not only are they convinced that Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court will result in Roe v. Wade being overturned and an end to everyone’s health care, but they are also apparently concerned that it will somehow lead us back to the 1850s.  Oh, and he eats bland food.

Republicans are not impressed.

Only now are cooler heads starting to prevail as the situation that was clear to everyone but Democrats and their base unfolds.  What would have happened if the Democrats had saved the filibuster of Supreme Court nominees for a swing seat like that being vacated by Justice Kennedy?

From the New York Times:

In the days leading up to the vote on Judge Neil M. Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court in the spring of 2017, Senator Susan Collins approached Senator Michael Bennet on the Senate floor with an urgent plea.

“Please, don’t do it this time,” Ms. Collins, the Republican from Maine, said to Mr. Bennet, her Democratic colleague from Colorado.

“It” was the Democratic inclination to mount a filibuster against Mr. Gorsuch, potentially forcing a showdown that would end with a move by Republicans to change Senate practices and eliminate supermajority filibusters against Supreme Court nominees.

Some members of both parties thought that prompting the fight would be rash and dangerous since Mr. Gorsuch was simply replacing another conservative, Antonin Scalia. Invoking the so-called nuclear option, they argued, could needlessly inflict new political damage on both the Senate and the court.

. . . . Now, as the Senate faces another court vacancy — one that could tilt the court’s ideological balance and cement a conservative majority — the Democrats have few tools to fight the nomination. A different outcome last year could have had a huge effect on the more consequential battle now taking shape.

The Republican majority in the Senate is smaller now, and the seat more consequential.

The NYT continues:

Had Democrats retained the power to block President Trump’s choice of Judge Brett M. Kavanaugh, he might have been forced to find a more consensus candidate. With the Republicans’ Senate majority smaller than it was in 2017, Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, might not have found it as easy now to corral the votes to overrule a filibuster. The entire political atmosphere around the nomination would be transformed.

“I never understood the strategy,” Mr. Bennet said about the insistence by leading Democrats and their activist allies that the party must try to derail Mr. Gorsuch with a filibuster even though the chances of success were slight to nonexistent. “We achieved nothing by filibustering Judge Gorsuch except giving Mitch McConnell the opportunity to strip us of our ability to filibuster a nominee who will cause a dramatic shift in the balance of the court.”

. . . . Ultimately, Democrats forced a procedural showdown on the Republican move to bring the Gorsuch nomination to the floor in early April. Democrats briefly halted the nomination when Republicans fell short of the preliminary 60-vote threshold on a vote of 55 to 45, with four Democrats joining them.

Current Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) insists that they made the right move last year, though not all Senate Democrats agree.  Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) thinks that they’d be in a better position if they hadn’t forced the issue over Gorsuch.

Mr. Schumer said that he had no regrets about the tactic, and that Mr. Gorsuch’s performance on the bench since being confirmed only made him more certain.

“Justice Gorsuch was an extreme nominee, and his recent record vindicates our decision to do everything we could to stop him,” Mr. Schumer said.

Democrats also say that Mr. McConnell would have simply tried to change the rules on the next nominee even if they had held back on Mr. Gorsuch. That is most likely true. But if a bipartisan agreement were in place, he might be short of the votes to do so. Mr. McConnell now has an even narrower majority, and, with the continued absence of Mr. McCain, only one Republican would have to resist to prevent Mr. McConnell from succeeding.

“We would absolutely be better off now if we were in a place where the rules prevented the confirmation of a new justice with a less than 60-vote margin,” Mr. Coons said. “Looking back on it, we would be in a much better position.”

Maybe Democrats should have listened to Senator John Cornyn (R-TX).

Because Senate Democrats over-played their hand last year, they are powerless to stop Kavanaugh’s confirmation.  Red state Senate Democrats seeking reelection this year are now in a bind: do they support the president’s pick for the Supreme Court and risk losing voters who supported Trump or do they toe the party line to avoid becoming targets of an increasingly dangerous Socialist Democrat base?