On Thursday April 6th, Republicans succeeded at breaking the filibuster on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch by exercising the “nuclear option”: changing the Senate’s rules.
The move is seen as drastic and symbolic of the discord between Democrats and Republicans in U.S. Senate. The decision to pursue the “nuclear option” was criticized on both sides of the aisle. The Democrats were more outspoken.
Gorsuch supporter, Sen. Joe Manchin III (D-W.Va.) stated that once Republicans lose their majority, they’ll “rue the day that this happened” referring to the rule change that makes it possible now to confirm Supreme Court nominees with a simple majority vote as opposed to the originally required 60 votes.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) expressed his concern that the new rule “makes it less likely you’re going to have centrist, moderate nominees on the Supreme Court.”
Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) clearly had the same concerns when he said: “the consequences for the Senate and for the future of the Supreme Court will be far-reaching.”
Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed as a Supreme Court Justice in a hurry, on Friday 04/07/2017, only one day after the “nuclear option” was exercised.
So here’s what all is about: Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated and promoted for the Supreme Court’s available seat on the platform of his impeccable education / qualifications. The Senate’s decision whether or not to vote a nominee through however isn’t based on his or her qualifications alone which is why Senate hearings precede the voting process. Republicans embraced Gorsuch’s views and his past rulings. Democrats, not so much. A judge in general, but a Supreme Court Justice even more so, is expected to be unbiased and not allow his political convictions taint his rulings. Neil Gorsuch’s rulings’ history seems to suggest that his commitment to the Republican agenda is stronger than his commitment to objectivity and justice. Under the original rules, Neil Gorsuch had no chance of becoming Supreme Court Justice. Republicans changed the rules to clear the way for his confirmation.
Circumventing or altering rules to arrive at a desired outcome isn’t kosher. But there are two other factors to consider: it certainly wasn’t the first time that the “nuclear option” was invoked in the U.S. Senate. A similar option was exercised by the Democrats in 2013. The only difference between the two is that the Democrats didn’t extend the simple majority vote rule to Supreme Court Justice Nominees whose appointments are valid for life. The other factor to keep in mind? Once the power differential in Senate shifts, the shoe will be on the other foot…. In the long run, the “nuclear option” exercised by the Republicans last week may have been shortsighted and may prove harmful to the Republican Party.
Anything L.A. Liberal Magazine’s Editor, E. Elrich