Today marked the commencement of the confirmation hearings for Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court. It doesn’t appear that there were any earth-shattering moments, and after a day of hearings, it seems like his nomination is still largely thought of as proceeding nominally and there appears to be a widespread expectation that he’ll be confirmed.
I think it’s still up-in-the-air about whether there will be enough Dem senators voting for cloture to avoid a nuclear-option showdown, but it seems like a real possibility.
Do Dopers here have a different view of the situation after a day? Was there a real make-or-break moment that I missed? Do you expect Senate Dems to be able to defeat his nomination?
Mods: I wasn’t sure where to put this. Ultimately, I settled on Elections because the Senate confirmation vote will be the closest thing to an election Gorsuch has, but if you feel it’s better-suited elsewhere, please advise.
It will be shocking to me if there are any actual “make-or-break” moments through the hearings – these generally amount to political theater, along with a testing of the political waters, so Senators can take time to strategize and evaluate the political consequences of voting one way or the other.
As for the final vote, I hope the Democrats hold firm and don’t allow cloture. If that means bye-bye to the filibuster, I think that’s ultimately to the Democrats’ benefit in the long run, so I’d welcome it. It would be a miracle if they actually manage to defeat his nomination – it would take a major stumble or reveal from his past.
The biggest objection to Gorsuch is that the seat should be Garland’s, and cooperating with seating Gorsuch legitimizes (or at least provides bipartisan cover for) the tactic that prevented Garland from receiving a hearing.
Be that as it may, by this time, the public and news cycle has moved so far beyond Garland at this point that any Democratic Senator who said, “I refused to vote for any SCOTUS nominee not named Merrick Garland” would end up portraying *himself/herself *as unreasonable, as opposed to the obstructionist GOP being portrayed as unreasonable for blocking Garland in the first place.
This certainly isn’t the case with progressives – I think the most important thing liberals and Democrats in the Senate and House can do is to inspire and motivate liberal and progressive voters to come out and vote and think of them as their champions. I think the voter turnout numbers show that liberals and progressives weren’t nearly as motivated to come out and vote in '16 as they/we were in '08 and '12, and well motivated liberal voters are what the Democratic party needs.
The GOP tactic of blocking Garland no matter what worked for them in motivating their base. The Democrats should learn from this – there is little or no political cost in going all out for your own “political side” in the incredible political polarization of the present.
I think collegiality in the Senate is dead… and good riddance, considering who’s in the Senate right now. Going milquetoast, like some of the moderate Democrats in the House tried in '10, failed spectacularly, and is a losing political strategy.
Also, as I already said, the Democrats should be praying for an end to the filibuster. That will be a political boon for the party in the long run.
Republicans didn’t pay a price for refusing to hold a vote for Garland, right? So why exactly do you think Democrats would pay a price for refusing to vote for Gorsuch?
Gorsuch is about the best you could hope for from Trump. Democrats should refuse to vote for him anyway. Let him be confirmed on a strict party-line vote. Not because Gorsuch is unacceptable, but because any Republican nominee is unacceptable.
So, answer my question. Did Republicans pay a political price for refusing to even hold hearings for Garland?
You and I both know the answer to that. They did not.
So what makes you think that Democrats would pay a political price for refusing to vote for Gorsuch?
How many swing voters are going to walk into the voting booth in 2018, and remember that time their Democratic representative voted against Gorsuch, and decide to pull the lever for the Republican instead?
There are 10 Democrat Senators in Trump states up for re-election in 2018. They’ve got a lot more invested in determining if voters will punish them for refusing to vote for cloture / Gorsuch, and right now some of them seem concerned enough about the possibility that they’re holding their cards close to their vest. I predict that some of them will vote for cloture, and ultimately for Gorsuch.
In short: people who know a lot more about the political realities in their states (elected Dem Senators) probably disagree with your assertion here, but we’ll know for certain in a few weeks.
Yes. Democrats have every right to pull out all the stops to keep this seat vacant or leverage their votes to get a more moderate choice.
However, ending the SCOTUS filibuster is not really in their interests. They kept it there for a reason. Since Bork, Republican nominees have tended to be more likely to have trouble getting confirmed than Democratic nominees. Ending the filibuster for SCOTUS nominees lets Republicans nominate Bork-type candidates at will if they control the Senate.
I really don’t know what I’d do if I were in their position. I guess the best option is to say, “New rule: any nomination in the year before an election gets held up until after the election.”
It’s in their interest because it brings us that much closer to ending the filibuster altogether. Once 60 votes are no longer required, the next time the Democrats have the House, Senate, and WH, they can pass universal health care, a higher minimum wage, progressive tax reform, financial reform, and all the big things Democrats and progressives have been pushing for for decades.
I think it weakens it. There’s already been a certain glee from the right along the lines of “Ha ha ha, the Democrats ended the filibuster for executive branch appointments, so y’all couldn’t stop Betsy DeVos or Ben Carson!” If the Republicans in turn eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees (in the face of a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch and/or “Any Trump SCOTUS nominee”), there won’t be much left to stand on if a hypothetical future Democratic Senate majority goes ahead and does away with it (or at least radically reforms it) for ordinary non-budget-reconciliation legislation in order to pass single-payer healthcare and so forth. (Presumably in a situation like the beginning of Obama’s first term, where they control not only the Senate but also the House and the White House, and arguably have a “mandate” to Get Things Done.)
The problem with “hey, they blocked Garland so we’re blocking Gorsuch!” is, of course, they can’t actually block Gorsuch. Also, while thin, the Republicans had the both the “moral” and media distraction of the election. Equating the two wrt voter fallout/inspiration is shaky political calculus.