While nearly everyone has been saying that Judge Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation was inevitable, I was worried. The Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch, a thoroughly noncontroversial nominee, seemed to make little sense unless they thought that a handful of Republican senators wouldn’t go along with the Harry Reid option, leaving the nominee stranded with fewer than 60 votes.
Thankfully, that didn’t happen. The Senate voted today along party lines to do away with the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. All Republicans joined in, to make the vote 52-48. The New York Times is regretful:
Senate Democrats in 2013 first changed the rules of the Senate to block Republican filibusters of presidential nominees to lower courts and to government positions, but they left the filibuster in place for Supreme Court nominees, an acknowledgment of the sacrosanct nature of the high court.
Actually, it was an acknowledgement that they didn’t need it at that point. Plus, Republicans have never engaged in a partisan filibuster of a Democrat’s Supreme Court nominee.
“This is the latest escalation in the left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet,” Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, said after describing Democratic opposition in the past to Judge Robert H. Bork and Justice Clarence Thomas. “And it cannot and it will not stand. There cannot be two sets of standards: one for the nominees of the Democratic president and another for the nominee of a Republican president.”
That is exactly right. McConnell is the hero of this battle. And now the Democrats won’t have the filibuster to fall back on, if and when President Trump makes his second Supreme Court nomination. That nominee might not be more controversial than Judge Gorsuch, but he can’t be any less so.