Democrats to filibuster Supreme Court nominee

  • 31 January 2017
  • NormanL
Democrats to filibuster Supreme Court nominee

There's no question there will be a war over President Trump's pick to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the untimely passing of Justice Antonin Scalia. Usually, however, those opposing the pick allow the person's name to be announced first, and then get on with the fighting. Not so this time:

Senate Democrats are going to try to bring down President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick no matter who the president chooses to fill the current vacancy.
With Trump prepared to announce his nominee on Tuesday evening, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick that is not Merrick Garland and that the vast majority of his caucus will oppose Trump’s nomination. That means Trump's nominee will need 60 votes to be confirmed by the Senate.

“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”

This can be put down as grandstanding -- playing to the fears and appetites of an angry progressive base. Or it could be rank hypocrisy:

It would be only the second time in modern history that the Senate has mounted a filibuster against a nominee. Democrats, including then-Sen. Barack Obama, tried to block the confirmation of Samuel Alito in 2006 but failed. Obama’s Supreme Court nominees each received more than 60 votes, but Republicans did not require a supermajority or the procedural vote that Merkley will demand.
Republicans immediately dinged Merkley as a hypocrite for being a leading advocate of changing the Senate rules four years ago.

"When Democrats were in the majority, Sen. Merkley wanted to end filibusters. But I guess he only meant when Democrats are in the majority and in control of the White House," said Don Stewart, a spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

We think it's both. Democrats have no other option in the current political climate than total opposition to any nominee Trump may put forward. That it will put them at odds with their very recent behavior on judicial nominees? It doesn't matter.

The fight over the nominee will be nasty, and could incinerate whatever small amount of collegiality remains in the Senate. We also fully expect the President will unleash his Twitter bombs at recalcitrant Senators, which, in turn, will send the press into a feeding frenzy that would shame a great white shark.

In short: politics was already a low, dirty business. We're about to see how much lower it can go.