Schumer: How about instead of nuking the filibuster, you let Democrats help choose Trump’s SCOTUS nominee?

posted at 6:31 pm on April 2, 2017 by Allahpundit

All I can hear is Bill Lumbergh’s voice: “Yeeaahhh, I’m gonna have to say no.” Needless to say, no one to the right of David Souter would survive a vetting process in which Democrats had veto power over a Gorsuch replacement. Besides, various liberal legal luminaries like Neal Katyal and Kathleen Sullivan have already weighed in on whom Trump should appoint to the Supreme Court. They named Neil Gorsuch. There’s your compromise.

I’m surprised this no-hoper of an idea is Schumer’s best shot at a “reasonable” solution to the Gorsuch standoff. He could have floated a new “Gang of 14” instead, in which centrist Democrats partner with centrist Republicans to choose a nominee, which at least would take the nomination out of the hands of Schumer, Bernie Sanders, and Elizabeth Warren. Or he could have pushed a suggestion made last week somewhere, in which Senate Dems agree to confirm Gorsuch in exchange for a firm promise from McConnell and the Republicans not to eliminate the filibuster for the rest of Trump’s term. But the possibility of a new Gang of 14 went up in smoke when Harry Reid went nuclear in 2013, embittering the Senate confirmation process. And McConnell won’t promise not to eliminate the filibuster, even in return for easy confirmation of Gorsuch, for the simple reason that he doesn’t need to. As long as his caucus holds together, which it appears willing to do — this time — he has the votes to go nuclear and get Gorsuch through. The point has been made often lately but bears repeating: By choosing to make their stand on a nominee as inoffensive and well qualified as Gorsuch, Democrats are signaling that they’d filibuster anyone Trump nominated. It’s pure payback for Merrick Garland. Which is fine if that’s how Schumer wants to play it, but the underlying logic reduces his olive branch to McConnell here to ash. Democrats plainly have no intention of cooperating with Republicans on any nominee, even if Gorsuch’s nomination were withdrawn. So McConnell’s only options are to go nuclear or accept that the Scalia seat will remain vacant indefinitely. He was pretty clear today which option he’s chosen.

YouGov published an interesting pair of polls on this subject yesterday. Do Americans like the idea of Republicans nuking the filibuster? Well, no:

Do Americans like the idea of Democrats filibustering in the first place? Well, no:

Independents are “meh” on both questions. Overall, though, the public thinks Gorsuch should be confirmed (38/26), and even Democrats concede that he’s qualified for the Court (36/26). Taking all of those numbers together, you can see why I think Democrats are making a mistake in using the filibuster now instead of on the next nominee: The public just isn’t exercised enough about Gorsuch to make this gambit an obvious political winner for the left. If you had a truly controversial nominee with the media raging day and night about his unfitness, you might have 50+ percent in favor of a filibuster and the same number opposed to the nuclear option. That would make McConnell, not to mention the purple-staters in his caucus, think twice. As it is, the public’s going to shrug at this week’s proceedings. And then, when the next vacancy opens up and Democrats are clamoring for opposition, the filibuster will be gone already. The most you can say for Schumer’s strategic foolishness here is that it’s been foisted on him by his base, which wants revenge blindly, not something he came by honestly.

Here he is, followed by McConnell being quizzed about his blockade of Merrick Garland. The latest, as of about 2 p.m. ET: Indiana Democrat Joe Donnelly is a yes on Gorsuch, putting the number in favor of cloture at 55. McConnell needs five of the remaining nine undecided Dems to avoid full nuclear release.


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