Goodbye conservative justice, hello David Souter, Jr.
I’m filing this one under “I told you so.”
The weak link in Donald Trump’s plans is not Trump’s own manifest shortcomings but the gutless pustulent swamp turtle that leads the Senate GOP caucus. There were early signs that quintessential McConnel-esque action was underway. First he let the Democrats roll him on confirmation votes for Trump’s cabinet after he pledged he would move them fast. Then there was the scary interview with Jake Tapper last Sunday in which McConnell gave wan assurances that the Democrats were reasonable and they wouldn’t filibuster a nominee after Chuck Schumer said that unless the nominee was considered “mainstream” by the Democrats that they would filibuster.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Friday all but ruled out the possibility of a change to the filibuster rule this year.
McConnell made his comment in an interview with The Hill one day after President Trump said he wants Senate Republicans to strip Democrats of the power to filibuster Supreme Court nominees if they attempt to block his pick.
“Senate rules are a matter for the Senate and a lot of other people have opinions,” McConnell said.
“We’ve already adopted the rules for this Congress at the beginning of the year. Basically we didn’t adopt any because in the Senate rules are permanent, unlike the House which every two year adopts a new set of rules. We don’t.”
McConnell has argued throughout his Senate career that the chamber’s rules can only be modified with a two-thirds vote, a striking contrast from his predecessor, former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), who triggered the nuclear-option in 2013 to shield executive branch and most judicial nominees from filibusters.
“It takes 67 votes to change the rules in the Senate. We saw one rather conspicuous exception to that a few years ago but no we don’t have any current plans on the rules,” he said.
This is nothing short of disastrous.
An actual majority leader could cajole the 8 Democrats up for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump won into voting for Trump’s SCOTUS nominee. A real majority leader could make life living hell for Schumer by simply not acting on any appointment recommended by any Democrat for any position. But we’re talking about Mitch McConnell.
Write this down, because nothing would make me happier than to have eat these words. If Trump nominates as guy like Gorsuch to fill Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court, the Democrats will filibuster. Period. End of sentence.
If McConnell won’t use the nuclear option, the seat will either be left unfilled or we will fill it with more human dross in the mold of Anthony Kennedy and David Souter.