They’ve come full circle: the same Democrats who cried foul when Obama Supreme Court pick Judge Merrick Garland was sidelined have now obtained enough votes to filibuster Trump nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, raising the possibility that Senate Republicans will change the rules of engagement.
On Monday, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) told the Senate Judiciary Committee that he would vote against cloture for Gorsuch’s nomination, making his the last of the 41 “no” votes necessary to trigger a filibuster.
“I am not ready to end debate on this issue. So, I will be voting against cloture unless we are able, as a body, to finally sit down and find a way to avoid the nuclear option, and ensure the process to fill the next vacancy on the court is not a narrowly partisan process, but rather an opportunity of both parties to weigh in,” Coons said, echoing Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s (D-NY) plea for a “mainstream nominee.”
Coons also hinted that his party’s obstructionism is a reaction against the Republican Party’s blockage of Obama’s pick in March 2016.
“Democrats, including me, are still furious at the way Judge Merrick Garland was treated last year, but the traditions and principles that have defined the Senate are crumbling, and we are poised to hasten that destruction this week,” he said.
Now, Republicans – who have insisted on confirming Gorsuch by the end of the week regardless of Democratic opposition – are preparing to invoke the so-called Constitutional Option that would change Senate rules to only require a simple majority of 51 votes for Supreme Court confirmations.
“We have no alternative,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) before the Judiciary Committee before voting 11-9 to clear the way for Gorsuch’s consideration on the Senate floor.