Neil Gorsuch will be the next justice of the Supreme Court after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell breaks the rules of the Senate to change the rules of the Senate and kills the filibuster.
Senate Democrats secured enough votes Monday to filibuster the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court, making it all but certain that Republicans will change the rules of the chamber to ensure his confirmation later this week.
Democratic opposition to Gorsuch has been building for days, and five more senators announced Monday that they would vote against him. That gives Democrats more than the requisite 41 senators to block a procedural vote and compel President Trump and Republicans either to withdraw Gorsuch’s nomination or to change Senate rules to eliminate the 60-vote requirement.
“This is a new low,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in response to Democratic opposition. But he also reiterated his vow that Gorsuch will be confirmed by Friday despite the likelihood of a filibuster. That’s because McConnell is prepared to invoke what is known as the “nuclear option” — a change in rules to allow Supreme Court nominees to be confirmed with a simple majority vote. With 52 seats, Republicans would then have enough votes to secure Trump’s first selection for the high court.
The procedural vote known as cloture has long set the Senate apart from the House of Representatives — and it has long been hailed by members of the upper chamber for requiring bipartisan cooperation, and forcing consensus, on major legislation or confirmation votes.
If that step is eliminated, the Senate is “headed to a world where you don’t need one person from the other side to pick a judge,” warned Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.). “And what does that mean? That means the judges are going to be more ideological, not less. It means that every Senate seat is going to be a referendum on the Supreme Court. . . . The damage done to the Senate is going to be real.”
And if we jump ahead in time to when President Cory Booker sends the nominations of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton to replace Clarence Thomas and Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the court to the Democratic majority Senate, the Republicans will suddenly demand that they bring back the filibuster.