Senate Democrats Should Not Have Forced Nuclear Option
There is plenty of reason to have a serious counter-thought to the prevailing actions of Senate Democrats in Washington. Today they blocked Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court on a 55-45 vote, marking the first successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in nearly five decades. Just four Democrats voted to advance Gorsuch’s nomination, which fell short of the necessary 60-vote threshold.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is now expected to invoke the “nuclear option,” which would change Senate rules with just a simple majority to eliminate the 60-vote barrier for Supreme Court nominees.
I certainly understand the anger at how the Garland nomination was handled by the conservative Senate Republicans in 2016. I firmly grasp the danger of having one on the bench who fails to understand that the Constitution is a living breathing document and how subscribing to ‘textualism’ as a justice is harmful for the country. Strict constructionism has long been one of the themes covered on this blog in relation to the courts.
But the placement of Gorsuch on the bench at this time will not change the political alignment of the court. So to have the nuclear option employed will not only do long term damage to the minority (regardless of which party that pertains to) but also will undermine Democrats baldy when the next court opening takes places in the near future.
Should a liberal or moderate justice need to be replaced and Trump were to then nominate one who resembled Gorsuch there would be a national outrage that could then be used by Senate Democrats to force a better nominee to be named. But if the nuclear option has been opened for Gorsuch it precludes the larger strategy that could be used at a later date by Democrats.
I fully get the national mood that is hostile–and rightly so–towards Trump and Company. But anger alone is dangerous. Pragmatism is always an essential ingredient in politics. It is time for Democrats to show they understand this fact.