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What If Democrats Hadn’t Over-played Their Hand On Gorsuch Nomination?

What If Democrats Hadn’t Over-played Their Hand On Gorsuch Nomination?

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

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?


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rabid wombat | July 15, 2018 at 6:28 pm

Dad always asked, “what if frogs had wings?”

The response was, “they would not bump their butts when they jumped.”

Conjecture is a great game. It is always fun looking backwards, as the answers are obvious. The Democratic started overplaying with Bork. Now is something about roosters coming home to roost.

Democrats then and now committed the cardinal sin of politics – believing your own bullshit.

They CONVINCED themselves that nuking the fillibuster was a good idea because 2010 was just a fluke and they were going to stay in power forever.

They CONVINCED themselves that they could fillibuster Gorsuch and keep him off the bench – usually by telling each other that they just had to delay it until Trump got arrested for LUL RUSSIA.

And now they’ve CONVINCED themselves Kavanagh is evil and horrible.

Meanwhile Republicans are just not listening to their tantrums anymore.

    Max17 in reply to Olinser. | July 15, 2018 at 7:24 pm

    “Meanwhile Republicans are just not listening to their tantrums anymore.”
    Listening? Absolutely I’m listening. And I just can’t get enough. ROFL! I thought I’d never again have as much fun as I did with the George Bush era “selected not elected” hold-my-breath, blue-faced-liberal, foot-stomping dance. But the Trump era is far, far better than that ever was! Bush never fought back. Trump is herding them like lemmings over the cliff and they can’t run fast enough. I enjoy every tantrum to its fullest. They’re promising to raise taxes, promoting MS-13, and demanding an end to ICE/border control. Go, Democrats, GO! RESIST AMERICA!
    What you mean is ‘Republicans are not rewarding their tantrums anymore.’

(((Boogs))) | July 15, 2018 at 6:47 pm

For the Yiddish speakers: As di bubbe volt gehat beytsim volt zi gevain mayn zaidah.

What if the party of science* and great intellect, the party of the farsighted, most-knowing of all, the party of tolerance, had not overplayed their hand on Gorsuch?

The answer is of course irrelevant. They did, and now they’re outta ammo.

* bty, the party of science is being done in by science as science delivers more and more irrefutable proof that life begins at conception. Which the left of courwe will continue to deny.

The democrats will go at any Trump nominee tong and hammer no matter what. Choose the best judge for the job and hope the leftist-republicans will toe the line.

“Then we are agreed. The traffic in originalist interpretation will be permitted, but controlled by the very words of the Constitution, and Don Corleone Trump will continue to give us similar originalist judges – and there will be the peace.”

JusticeDelivered | July 15, 2018 at 7:54 pm

Day by day, I am more pleased that I voted for Trump.

    smalltownoklahoman in reply to JusticeDelivered. | July 16, 2018 at 9:20 am

    Me too! It was originally a hold my nose, lesser of two evils vote for me but surprise surprise he’s done pretty well so far!

What if schumer wasn’t a scummy leftist?

What is McConnell was really a Republican?

What if the NY Times was a newspaper?

What if CNN broadcast news?

What if ‘barack hussein obama’ was a real person?

What if moooochelle obama knew how to dress?

What if hillary klinton was honest?

What if chelsea clinton had brains?

What if jeff sessions had integrity?

What if robert mueller was investigated?

What if ruth ginsberg honored her oath of office?

What if sotomayor wasn’t a dummy in a black robe?

What if lois lerner and peter strozk were tarred and feathered?

What if hollywood idiots didn’t get history lessons from gnoramuses like rachel maddow? (What if they all went to treat their debilitating narcissism?)

What if a tree fell in the woods, and it landed on jim acosta’s head?

What if bette midler read the Constitution, instead of learning about it from MSNBC morning emails? Or if jamie lee curtis stopped being hawaii’s air-raid warden?

What if antifa goons had their masked permanently welded to their face?

What if obama and joe biden got a brains from the Wizard of Oz?

What if al sharpton had to pay taxes?

What if the all the Minute Men rose from their graves and made war on the Swamp?

Leave it to the Alzheimer Gray Lady to look at the SCOTUS as a keeping the status quo game. And in what universe would any pick by Trump be viewed as a more consensus pick by the Democrats?

Would they be saying the same thing if roles were reversed? Would they advocate anything like a consensus pick if Hillary were making the choices for a Justice?

I am fairly sure that had Trump picked Merrick Garland the left would have found that was totally unacceptable become of some “new found” information that swings him to the far right and pro-life and anti-gay rights.

The Democrats would oppose breathing if Trump advocated for it. It is nearly a Pavlovian response to every single thing Trump does or says.

    Bucky Barkingham in reply to oldgoat36. | July 16, 2018 at 8:06 am

    Not just the Leftists, the pseudo-conservative NeverTrumps also.

    cloudbuster1 in reply to oldgoat36. | July 16, 2018 at 9:13 am

    Status Quo; latin for “the mess we are currently in.”
    The democrats are in a mess; if they give an inch, their
    base will fall to the floor,kicking and screaming. They
    can’tcome to grips with the thought that they are headed
    for the dust bin of history.( Please hurry!)

They haven’t learned from their mistakes (their Achilles heel). “People will die” if Kavanaugh is confirmed? They are at 11, where do they go from there when Ginsburg dies?

Sick Humor Trigger

That moment when…

The Left protests Kavanaugh’s swearing in with “people will die!”. And the instant he is seated, Ginsburg falls over dead.

We have to bite our tongues so hard it bleeds. First one to crack with gales of maniacal laughter buys 1st round of drinks.

And don’t look over at George Will who’s giving you the death glare…

Eastwood Ravine | July 15, 2018 at 11:42 pm

Democrats, when it comes to their politics, whether it’s positions, policies, or strategies, tend not to be very self-reflective.

smalltownoklahoman | July 16, 2018 at 9:17 am

The Dems foolishly believed they could force Trump out of office before he would have an opportunity to appoint a second SC nominee. They failed, much to our amusement and their chagrin. If they fail to tilt the Senate to their favor this Fall then Trump may have even more latitude to appoint someone they will really hate should Ginsburg not last much longer.