This is about as good a speech as John Kennedy has given, and it almost comes off as a Jimmy Stewart soliloquoy. And it’s worth 10 minutes of your time.
Kennedy defends the decision to nuke the filibuster, and he’s articulate about it though not so much in constitutional terms – he’s more interested in the fact that should the Democrats be allowed to gum up the Senate’s works and keep Gorsuch from getting a vote they won’t be doing the work of addressing the nation’s problems. It’s a populist argument for nuking the filibuster and one Kennedy can be expected to choose – he leaves to others the point that this filibuster contains less goodwill and respect for the judicial nomination process than any we’ve seen.
Louisiana’s senior senator Bill Cassidy had a rather curt statement about the Democrats’ attempts at a filibuster.
“Jurists and lawyers from across the political spectrum endorse Judge Gorsuch. He is immensely qualified to be our next Supreme Court Justice,” said Dr. Cassidy. “We should not hold the Supreme Court of the United States hostage to Senator Schumer’s vision of how partisan politics should be played in DC.”
The fact is, this was an incredibly stupid move on the part of Chuck Schumer and his caucus. Gorsuch replaces Antonin Scalia, whose judicial philosophy Gorsuch shares. As such he doesn’t change the makeup of the court. And it’s not like they had a real gripe against him other than ideology. There are no skeletons in this man’s closet and there is no question about his quality. Filibustering him is an abuse that lays waste to the credibility of the maneuver, and as such there is but limited defense to its propriety.
Moreover, by attempting to filibuster Gorsuch you’ve eliminated your ability to filibuster anybody else Trump nominates for the next Supreme Court opening, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg could retire or become incapacitated at any time. A conservative taking her place will substantially change the court for a generation, and that will change America in ways Schumer won’t like.
Much better to fight the Gorsuch nomination with “no” votes and accept a new judge who will act in the same ways the old one did, and preserve some semblance of credibility to keep the filibuster around. Schumer attempted to get Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to agree to a deal whereby they’d let Gorsuch go through in return for being able to choose Ginsburg’s replacement, and McConnell rightly turned that down – the American people have voted to make the Senate and White House Republican for a reason, and it’s not to preserve liberal judges on the Supreme Court. Schumer could have at least potentially beaten back a conservative Ginsburg replacement if the nominee had flaws. Now, it’s open season.
It’s a bit hard to feel sorry for the Democrats, even if the nuclear option on the filibuster does make you queasy.