Showdown on Mount Gorsuch

This past Sunday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell vowed that Judge Gorsuch would be confirmed to the Supreme Court this week. If put to a straight up or down vote, as he will be, Judge Gorsuch would win a majority for his confirmation. If Democrats rally 41 votes to support a filibuster — Senator McConnell didn’t expressly say, but it was implicit in his vow — Republicans would be put to the trouble of invoking the Reid Rule to proceed with the confirmation vote.

Yesterday the Democrats reached 41 votes to support a filibuster blocking a vote on Judge Gorsuch. Politico reported the story here.

Mitch McConnell is no fool. I take him at his word. I infer that he has the votes to extend the Reid Rule to Supreme Court confirmations and will do so with the support of Senate Republicans on Friday.

The Democrats have no case against Judge Gorsuch. The pretext that the Democrats have to die on Mount Gorsuch is ludicrous. No serious observer buys it. It’s a joke. See, e.g., the statement Minnesota Senator Amy Klobuchar gave to the Duluth News Tribune. No conceivable Republican nominee could pass muster under the “I say it’s spinach” test that she articulates.

It also departs from Senate tradition. No Supreme Court nominee has ever been blocked by a partisan filibuster. The filibuster of Gorsuch for no particular reason invites a united Republican response to invoke the Reid rule.

The Democrats’ filibuster is irrational from the perspective of the left. It belies their interests so long as a Republican administration remains in power by making it easier for a majority Republican Senate to confirm the next justice, whose confirmation might alter the balance on the Court to the right.

Republicans have never used the filibuster to block the confirmation of the likes of Ruth Ginsburg and Sonia Sotomayor. If not them, who? It’s not a device of great use to Republicans. By filibustering Judge Gorsuch, however, Democrats have made it easy for Republicans to do what is necessary to confirm him and prospective nominees who may move the Court in a direction congenial to conservatives.

In his excellent Washington Post column reviewing relevant history in some detail, Marc Thiessen derives some pathos, but I’m not feeling it. I don’t see a reason for conservative observers to feel any ambivalence about the extension of the Reid Rule to Supreme Court nominees.

Like Senator McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is no fool. He is a calculating man. He is now a calculating man performing an irrational act. He knows it and he doesn’t like it. Yet Senator Schumer and his crowd — including, let it be noted, Minnesota’s own Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken — have become the willing instrument of a deranged base.

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