Filibustering Gorsuch is still a bad idea

Yet blocking Gorsuch would be very unlikely to persuade Trump to retract Gorsuch’s nomination and name a more moderate judge. It’s not in Trump’s personality or interest to back down.

That would mean the Democrats’ goal would have to be to block Gorsuch indefinitely, the way Garland was blocked, but for three or four times as long, until the next presidential election at least.

And it doesn’t seem terribly likely that Republican senators would be prepared to hold onto the filibuster for three and a half years if it meant keeping Antonin Scalia’s seat empty. That’s mostly because those Republicans would in effect be associated with the Democrats — they could be depicted as refusing to confirm Gorsuch.

And here’s where Gorsuch’s plausibility as a justice becomes relevant. He’s not a candidate who can be depicted as dangerously out of the mainstream or as unqualified. He’s a solid conservative who (in my estimation) will probably start out somewhere between Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito on the political spectrum. He could potentially move in Roberts’s direction in light of his temperament and doctrinal approach, which seem closer to Roberts’s than to anyone else on the court.