Shaheen: Everyone I know wants to give Gorsuch an up-or-down vote

Everyone? If so, that might be news to Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) caucus leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY), who just got done writing that Neil Gorsuch has to pass through the Gauntlet of Cloture to get to his floor vote for confirmation to the Supreme Court. Shaheen offered this alternative view of Democratic reality in rebuking John Thune (R-SD), who had the temerity to take Schumer at his written word:

SEN. SHAHEEN: Mr. President, I just wanted to take a minute – I know we have several people waiting to speak – but I wanted to respond to my colleague from South Dakota because I think for Senator Thune to come to the floor and castigate Democrats for holding up Judge Gorsuch, who has just been nominated, and for suggesting we’re going to filibuster, the fact is, throughout most of last year we saw the Republican Majority in this body hold up the nominee of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee. For the first time in history this body refused to hold a hearing on a nominee for the Supreme Court, refused to give an up-or-down vote. And, to suggest that we should not get a fair hearing on the nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch, I think is just not something that’s going to be good for the American people. Unlike the Republican Majority, I haven’t heard any Democrats saying we don’t think that Judge Gorsuch should get a hearing or that he should get an up-or-down vote. Everybody I’ve talked to agrees he should a hearing and an up-or-down vote.

Thune suggested that Democrats were going to filibuster because … Chuck Schumer wrote that threat down and published it in Politico yesterday. Maybe Shaheen missed a memo, but this is exactly what Schumer wrote:

Nominees to our nation’s highest court must demonstrate that they are mainstream and independent enough to earn the support of at least 60 senators from both parties. Both of President Obama’s nominees to the Supreme Court exceeded that level of support. The simple question we are asking is: Can President Trump’s nominee meet that same test? If the nominee fails to meet 60 votes, the answer isn’t to change the rules; it’s to change the nominee.

Schumer’s clearly referring to the cloture vote, not an up-or-down vote on confirmation, which only takes a majority under any circumstances. As has been pointed out more than once, two of the current justices on the Supreme Court got confirmed with fewer than 60 votes, one of whom (Samuel Alito) was also the target of a Democratic filibuster via the cloture vote. Shaheen’s caucus leader made it clear that Democrats will try that again on Gorsuch, so Thune was exactly correct and Shaheen is … misinformed, at the very least. Maybe she should check her voice mail. Until then, file this in the “Urination Is Not Precipitation” category.

Some suggested that this was Shaheen’s way of bailing out of the filibuster. Perhaps, but don’t expect Shaheen to stick to this when Schumer starts whipping the Democratic caucus. She brought up Merrick Garland as a way to pre-rationalize the later filibuster that she’s shocked, shocked to hear Republicans suspect is coming. It’s not game over yet.