Neil Gorsuch is going to be confirmed for the Supreme Court this week. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has made that clear. Democrats have also made it clear that they will filibuster his nomination, so expect McConnell is exercise the so-called “nuclear option” and end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.
John McCain said ending the filibuster will be a “dark day in the history of the United States Senate.” The Senate is supposed to be the chamber that slows down legislation and requires discussion and serious debate. Ending the filibuster will allow Senators to rush through confirmations along party line votes and restrict the minority party’s chances of stopping more ideological nominees. It could also lead to ending the filibuster for routine legislation.
McConnell is blaming the intransigence of Democrats for forcing him to invoke the nuclear option and cites Harry Reid’s use of it to confirm Obama’s nominees to lower courts. But make no mistake, Mitch McConnell is responsible and he’s broken the Senate. As minority leader, he declared that his main objective was to make Obama a one-term president and stopping Obama’s agenda was key to his strategy.
McConnell turned the rarely used procedure of the filibuster into common practice to thwart the Democrats. In the first five years of George W. Bush’s term, Democrats used the filibuster 201 times. In the first five years of Obama’s term, McConnell invoked it 505 times. Reid only used the nuclear option out of frustration with McConnell’s extremism.
McConnell’s holding up Merrick Garland’s nomination was unprecedented and essentially stole an appointment from Barack Obama. Democrats’ opposition to Gorsuch lies as much with McConnell’s tactics as the nominee’s positions. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer has called on McConnell to protect the filibuster and instead find a compromise candidate for the Court. That won’t happen. Instead, McConnell will blow up a Senate tradition to protect his extremist action of denying a sitting president a Supreme Court nominee.
Mitch McConnell has permanently altered the way the Senate works, changing it from one of the world’s great deliberative bodies to just another political entity. He may have been good for Republicans but he’s been bad for our country.