Since President Trump revealed his choice to replace the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, speculation has centered around whether the nominee will get enough Democratic support to avoid the filibuster. With Republicans holding a 52-48 majority, they need just 8 Democrats to break ranks to move Gorsuch forward. However, getting there has proved to be problematic.
Although Gorsuch doesn’t tilt the balance of the Supreme Court, Democrats have shown no willingness to work with Trump. Now that the vote is looming, it’s clear nothing is changing.
From The Hill:
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) announced on Monday that he will oppose President Trump’s pick on a procedural vote where he will need the support of eight Democrats to cross a 60-vote threshold to end debate on Gorsuch. Coons is the 41st Democrat to back the filibuster.
“Throughout this process, I have kept an open mind. … I have decided that I will not support Judge Gorsuch’s nomination in the Judiciary Committee meeting today,” Coons said.
“I am not ready to end debate on this issue. So I will be voting against cloture,” Coons said, absent a deal to avoid the nuclear option.
The move is a risky one for Democrats. Unless there is a last minute change of heart, the GOP majority Senate may vote to change the rules and eliminate the filibuster. If they do, it would pave the way for the Republicans to get their way on future Supreme Court nominees as well.
That reality wasn’t lost on the Democrats who decided to go against the party:
Only four Democratic senators have said they will support President Trump’s pick on the initial vote to end debate: Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.).
If Republicans decide to use the so-called “nuclear option”, it’s sure to cause a fierce reaction by Democrats. Of course, Democrats have only themselves to blame, having set the precedent of using the procedure just a few years ago. Back then, Democrats eliminated the filibuster for lower court nominees, but that move could prove costly just a few years later.
While there has been no official word on whether or not Republicans will go nuclear, all indications point in that direction. The showdown over the Supreme Court is about to heat up, and it could get explosive.
[Note: This post was authored by Michael Lee. Follow him on Twitter @UAMichaelLee]