Schumer Urges Filibuster to Block Gorsuch Confirmation

Well, this certainly didn’t take long. I thought eight Democrats might have been willing to support Gorsuch, but I guess I underestimated their frustration.

Who wants to bet Senate Republicans will take a page from their Democratic colleagues’ 2013 playbook and change the Senate rules to end the filibuster? Looks like that’s where this is headed.

Yea, the drama over this nomination has been kinda silly. Gorsuch nomination was assured as soon as it was announced, and the death of the Judicial filibuster the next time a party tried to use it is almost as assured. The intensity of arguing over specifically which impotent symbolic gesture Dems should make is silly.

If the Democrats filibuster, them I’m betting the Republicans will nuke the filibuster. And in theory that’s a problem, because it means that the filibuster won’t be available in the future to block a more extreme candidate than Gorsuch.

But perhaps we’ve reached the point where the next time the Democrats filibuster any Supreme Court nominee, the Republicans would respond by nuking the filibuster. (In my mind, that’s not as extreme a move as holding up the nomination of a moderate for a year so they could get a different President, and of course they already did that.) If that is the case, the filibuster is effectively dead anyway (when it comes to Supreme Court nominees) and the Democrats have nothing to lose by trying it.

What are the Dems hoping to get out of a filibuster?
Is it worth it?

Absolutely there should be a filibuster because the Republicans refused to even hold hearings on Merrick Garland.

Gorsuch, from all I’ve read, is basically a Scalia clone. The message here is that it could be a lot worse. I’d counsel letting the vote happen and skipping the filibuster this time. But then maybe the Dem leadership wants Pubbies to nuke it for reasons of political perceptions.

From the WaPo article with my emphasis

It’s big when the Minority Leader finally takes a personal stand. He left a big chunk of wiggle room for his caucus in the way he did it.

Agreed. A filibuster which can’t be used is exactly the same value as no filibuster at all. Call the Republican’s bluff.

My guess is that this would be an attempt to increase campaign contributions in the hope that the Democrat Party will be able to reverse the steady decline of elected Democrats in the U.S. Congress, and state legislatures.

And the white house.

Dems lose nothing, gain press, and fire up the base by promising filibuster now, then allowing a few members to back off, citing this reason.

The problem is that by dong this they look just as bad as the Republicans. When the Republicans refused to consider any of Obama’s nominations, they looked like spoiled children who will take their ball and go home when the game turned against them. But in the end it was worth it to them because they got the nominee they wanted in the end. If the Dems filibuster now, in protest for the unfair behavior by the Republicans, then its easy to just mark the whole to down as just politics both sides do it, and the Republicans still get their nominee. On the other hand if they indicate that they are willing to accept a nominee from the other party so long as he is qualified and not a radical, then they appear adult and bi-partisan, in contrast to the underhanded partisan Republicans. It may hurt them a little with their base who may rather see a glorious defeat with arms flailing rather than a acceptance of reality, but by and large the American people are tired of the partisan gridlock in Washington, and taking the moral high ground could make dividends with moderates.

The best deal I can figure is that by threatening the filibuster now, you end up with some sort of pact that the Democrats will not filibuster Gorsuch and in return they’ll be allowed to filibuster a future nominee without the Republicans nuking it. Maybe you could get three Republican Senators to agree to a deal like that. Maybe. Personally I wouldn’t be inclined to trust a deal like that, but those folks all hang out together, whatever.

More likely they try the filibuster, McConnell nukes it, and that’s that. Since the filibuster only survives until someone tries to use it anyway, I figure that’s an okay outcome. Since it’s really the only possible leverage the Democrats have right now and they don’t really have any other way to punish the obstruction of Judge Garland, may as well keep their base encouraged. As McConnell proved, violations of Senate norms don’t matter.

A couple years ago, I would have agreed completely with this reasoning.

Now, however, after 8 years of trying to block almost everything from Obama, culminating in the deplorable way they handled Garland’s nomination, I want to see the Dems do it all too.

The republicans pulled this nonsense time and time again over years and ultimately have been rewarded for it with complete control of the federal government and many state governments. The voters obviously didn’t care enough to tell the republicans to stop it, instead the message was “we want more of it!”

It’s pretty obvious that a plan of Democrats trying to be the adults in the room just doesn’t work at all and different tactics need to be tried.

When was the last time that appealing to moderates paid off for the Dems?

I agree with you. A power that can’t be used or respected is not a power; its just a tradition. If this Congress wants to kill it so badly, its just more ammo to make sure that the next Congress has a different majority.

I believe that the filibuster is the moral high ground. The Republicans have shown us that the game has changed. There is no longer honor among Senators. The Constitution can go to hell – apparently the president can only nominate justices during the first three years of a term. Nominations by Democratic (or black) presidents can be postponed indefinitely. Nominations by Republican (or white) presidents – even when suspected of achieving the office via colluding with an enemy – must be pushed through with all expediency.

I will leave you with this clip from well-known Democrat Jean-Luc Picard: “Yeah, you know what clip this is, but click it anyway.”


No, really, I’m curious. Who are we avoiding by not filibustering Gorsuch? Pryor? Cruz? We’re looking at a candidate whose closest ideological match is Antonin Scalia. You don’t get much further right than that without having white hoods in your wardrobe, and at this point I see little distinction between a far-right candidate who will side with the “conservative” side of any given cause 99.9% of the time, and a far-right candidate who will side with the “conservative” side of any given cause 99.999% of the time. And then there’s this:

Bingo. Why the hell would we assume that going along with Gorsuch now would make it any less likely that the republicans dismantle the filibuster later on?

How well has this worked for the last 8 years? Democrats have been the adults in the room for the entire Obama administration. They were the adults in the room when they reached across the aisle for Obamacare (even though they didn’t have to) and it took over a year for the bill to pass, because they made sure everyone got a say. Republicans claimed that the bill was rushed through and nobody understood it. The republicans forced a government shutdown, held the solvency of the government hostage to try to force through legislature they could not pass with the votes they had, they filibustered damn near everything (and the democrats foolishly decided to be “the adult in the room” and not just get rid of the filibuster when it became clear that it was becoming nothing more than a hindrance to functional government), and refused to allow the president to nominate anyone, even a bipartisan moderate, to the supreme court.

And look where we are now. The adults have largely been voted out. Democrats control neither house of congress, they’re virtually non-existent on the state level, they don’t have the white house, and they’re about to let the republicans jam through Scalia 2.0.

At what point do we just shrug and admit, “Okay, this isn’t working”? The democrats can talk all they want about “upholding norms” and “being the bigger person”, but a norm in a game that only one player respects is no longer a norm, it is set of manacles for the party willing to play by that norm. We are teaching the republicans, “It’s okay, no matter what fundamental democratic norm you break, so long as there’s no law attached (or even if there is sometimes), we’re going to keep abiding by that norm. So go right ahead, keep breaking norms, it keeps working for you, and there’s no reason to stop doing it.” This is like a prisoner’s dilemma where one party always chooses “cooperate” and is repeatedly shocked when, every single time, the other party chooses “betray” and fucks them over. It’s time to stop choosing “cooperate”.

I wish I was a Senator so I could vote against this guy.

I wish I were a senator so I could vote for this guy, and after he was confirmed, when I passed Senator Banks in the hallway of the Dirksen Building I could give him a little thumbs up gesture, like “Hey, nice try. But no.”