Now that Donald Trump had his “So You Think You Can Adjudicate” reality TV moment and picked some guy named Neil Gorsuch for a Supreme Court seat that shouldn’t have been his to appoint, there are lots of people, up to and including Democratic politicians who are wondering aloud “what should we do?”
To which I reply: don’t let him on the Supreme Court.
I mean, this isn’t hard. First, there’s some pretty recent precedent for holding up a SCOTUS appointment. You have to go alllll the way back to two weeks ago to find it, since Republicans held up Obama’s appointee, Merrick Garland, for almost a year because… well, because they felt like it.
So now, we should feel like holding up this one. After all, we were just assured – again, last year – that hell, the Supreme Court works just fine with eight justices. So let’s try it on for size.
You can make arguments about his conservativism, and pick apart his judicial philosophy on this issue or that issue, and make no mistake, he’d rule as a very conservative justice, perhaps second only to Clarence Thomas in that metric. But keep it simple, folks. The reason he shouldn’t be on the Supreme Court is because there are no political norms or rules any more, and the party that destroyed them shouldn’t be rewarded for doing so. If you think for a second that had Hillary Clinton won the presidency but not the popular vote that Republicans would suddenly be falling over themselves to vote for an appointment they wouldn’t before, you’re dangerously naive.
I honestly can almost not think of a single counterargument to Democratic obstruction of the nominee. Beyond “how’s your own medicine taste?” there’s the fact that if, as Republicans told us, the Supreme Court was on the ballot last fall, there’s 3 million reasons why Hillary Clinton should get to pick who fills the seat. That’s right, the Supreme Court is the court of the entire country, so popular vote counts.
Speaking of vote counts, and getting back to the nitty gritty of this, Gorsuch will need 60 votes in the Senate, which means Republicans would have to bring along 8 Democrats to confirm him. Off the top of my head, the ones we should be worried about are: Chris Coons (DE), Bill Nelson (FL) Angus King (ME), Joe Donnelly (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), Jon Tester (MT), Heidi Heitkamp (ND), Bob Casey (PA), and Joe Manchin (WV). That’s nine.
Republicans can also invoke the so-called “nuclear option.” They can change the rules of the Senate (remember yesterday’s post) and allow Supreme Court justices to be seated with a simple majority. If they do that, there will be no way to stop Gorsuch from filling the seat.
So, make them do it. Stop listening to media concern-trolling that if you filibuster this time, you won’t be able to if there’s a more liberal seat available, or that you’re “overplaying your hand.” Important decisions should be the easiest ones to make, and this one is pretty damned important, not only for the future makeup of the court, but to show that there are limits to being the grownups who let the kids run roughshod over you.