Explain for me something about the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation

Recently, I have seen reporting that Thomas was confirmed by a vote of 52-48. However, I also understood that Gorsuch’s confirmation was the first time the “nuclear option” was invoked allowing a Supreme Court justice to be confirmed by a simple majority rather than requiring 60 votes. What am I missing?

In the recent past 60 votes were needed to overcome the threat of a filibuster.

If the Democrats wanted to stop Thomas they wouldn’t have had to filibuster - they were in the majority and could have not brought him up for a vote at all.

It didn’t require 60 votes to confirm. It required 60 votes to invoke cloture and force an end to debate. If there wasn’t a group that wanted to keep debate open that cloture vote wasn’t necessary. The filibuster was used less frequently at the time. It was generally saved for relatively big issues and involved actual speeches on the floor of the Senate. We’ve moved to a norm where 40+ vote minorities frequently prevent debate from beginning by letting their willingness to debate ad infinitum be known in advance.

Routine filibustering of the Senate wasn’t a thing back then.

It was really only in 2010, when McConnell said that his first duty was to ensure that Obama would be a failed president that a filibuster-proof majority was needed for absolutely everything

Do you have an exact date and quote for this statement that McConnell supposedly made?

McConnell made his remarks in an interview that appeared in the National Journal on Oct. 23, 2010.

November 2010 quoted in the National Journal (subscription required, link from here — https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2013/11/get-mitch-mcconnell-099376) — “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”


As referenced here

And behind a paywall, here.

There was also significant cross-party voting. Eleven Democrats voted to confirm and two Republicans voted “no.” Sen. Alan J. Dixon (D-Ill.) was primaried out by Carol Moseley Braun in 1992 largely as a result of his “yes” vote. Sen. Richard C. Shelby (D-Ala.), who also voted “yes,” switched parties after the 1994 mid-term election.

Thanks. I didn’t realize the Democrats were in the majority. Makes more sense.