On Monday night, we did one of the better episodes of The Red Bayou Show that we’ve done in terms of substance; we had constitutional scholar and Southern University Law School professor Michelle Ghetti on to discuss the Neil Gorsuch nomination, and one of the theories we kicked around a little was the hopelessness of the Democrats’ prospects of actually blocking the nomination.
And we kicked around the possibility that rather than making a fight on Gorsuch they’d keep their powder dry for the next fight – which would possibly be to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Anthony Kennedy on the court; Kennedy is a swing vote of sorts, while Ginsburg being replaced by a Trump appointee would fundamentally alter the ideological balance of the court. Michelle thinks it will be Clarence Thomas who’ll leave before Ginsburg or Kennedy, and she’s probably right; one wonders whether the Democrats would consider holding their fire on a Thomas replacement as well.
In any event, our speculation that maybe Gorsuch could get a pass has a little more meat on it as a result of this…
SEN. SHAHEEN: Mr. President, I just wanted to take a minute — I know we have several people waiting to speak — but I wanted to respond to my colleague from South Dakota because I think for Senator Thune to come to the floor and castigate Democrats for holding up Judge Gorsuch, who has just been nominated, and for suggesting we’re going to filibuster, the fact is, throughout most of last year we saw the Republican Majority in this body hold up the nominee of Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee. For the first time in history this body refused to hold a hearing on a nominee for the Supreme Court, refused to give an up-or-down vote. And, to suggest that we should not get a fair hearing on the nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Gorsuch, I think is just not something that’s going to be good for the American people. Unlike the Republican Majority, I haven’t heard any Democrats saying we don’t think that Judge Gorsuch should get a hearing or that he should get an up-or-down vote. Everybody I’ve talked to agrees he should a hearing and an up-or-down vote.
This isn’t the first indication the Dems are going to take a powder on Gorsuch. Dick Durbin gave a bit of a tell on the subject last week.
Ace of Spades considers the question of a no-contest on Gorsuch and whether a Kennedy or Ginsburg replacement would be the point where the guns start blazing, but notes there could be a different explanation of the conciliatory noises…
As to Shaheen: it’s also possible — likely, even — that she’s simply lying, claiming the Democrats are open-minded and have no current plans to filibuster Gorsuch. They’ll go into the hearings on a Listening Tour, you see.
Then — get this! — they’ll learn something so terrible about Gorsuch that they’re now duty bound to filibuster him to save the Constitution itself.
Whatever he says, they’ll find something to claim constituted the ultimate dealbreaker.
So this could just be some bullshit to lay the groundwork for the I Was Ready To Give Him an Up or Down Vote But Then I Heard His “Disturbing” Take on the 10th Amendment And Oh My God I Just Can’t Even.
Maybe, though one would have to think Gorsuch is clean enough to make that a long shot of a proposition.
But after the screaming about Trump’s cabinet that we’ve already seen, which has become a farce with the 51-50 vote confirming Betsy DeVos and the abject caterwauling coming as a response – and then last night’s histrionics over Jeff Sessions, it’s almost hard to believe the Democrats will actually back off voluntarily.
But it’s also hard to see what else they can do if Durbin and Shaheen have already said they’re for having a vote on Gorsuch.