Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch will get his confirmation hearing on March 20th, but will he get a confirmation vote? Progressive activists have put tremendous pressure on Senate Democrats to obstruct Donald Trump at every turn, and especially at this turn. Kirsten Gillibrand throws a bucket of cold reality on the Left, telling NY1 that there’s no doubt that Gorsuch will end up on the court (via Fox News):
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., said Tuesday that President Trump’s pick to replace Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court will likely be confirmed because even if he does not win enough votes, the “nuclear option” would likely be employed.
“I hope we do vote him down,” she said in an interview with NY1. “But make no mistake: If we do hold the line with 60 votes, (Sen.) Mitch McConnell will change the rules the next day.”
First off, it doesn’t appear that cloture will be a problem. Gorsuch has conducted a successful charm offensive on Capitol Hill, Politico reported yesterday, even appearing to sway Senate Minority Whip Dick Durbin and Ben Cardin by doing some research on their concerns before meeting with them. With Cardin, Gorsuch talked about judicial history, and with Durbin Gorsuch discussed criminal justice reform. He also backpedaled off of criticism levied at liberals from a dozen years ago:
The judge even shunned a National Review article he penned in 2005 charging that “liberals have become addicted to the courtroom.” Of the article, Gorsuch said he “wishes it would just disappear,” Durbin recalled.
Asked whether he felt Gorsuch was saying these things merely to appease Democrats, Durbin responded: “This is a political world and that’s where he’s seeking his approval.”
Still, Durbin said he would not rule out supporting the 10th Circuit judge for the Supreme Court, saying, “He has a hearing to get through and more questions to be answered.”
The main issue is in getting votes to pass a cloture test, not for confirmation. If Gorsuch picks up Durbin, Cardin, and Jon Tester among other Senate Democrats on a final confirmation vote, that’s gravy, but getting to the confirmation vote is the real test. Thanks to the political vise in which Harry Reid left his former colleagues, Gillibrand notes, it’s not going to be a very tough test at all, but Gorsuch is taking no chances.
However, Gillibrand’s cold jolt of reality doesn’t just apply to Gorsuch, does it? Supposedly, Senate Democrats will give Gorsuch a pass because (a) he’s undoubtedly qualified for the job, and (b) his confirmation doesn’t impact the balance of the court. They’re keeping their powder dry in case Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Anthony Kennedy retires, so that they can put on the full-court press on that nominee. How, though, will the situation be any different than what Gillibrand describes in this interview? Having set the precedent, Harry Reid has eliminated the filibuster in all but name on Supreme Court nominees, period. Gorsuch will get confirmed, and so will any Trump nominee in any subsequent openings, too.
Elections have consequences. So do unilateral rules changes for partisan purposes. Democrats ended up on the losing end of both, and the sooner their base realizes it, the better off Senate Democrats will be.