You have to give him some credit, the guy has a tireless work ethic.
He semi-carelessly implemented his promised "ban" on travel from 7 mostly failed-state, majority-Muslim countries, prompting the kind of theatrics one would have expected from The Left. Cue the protests, the descriptions of it as "anti-Muslim," the faux crying by Chuck Schumer, the judge-shopping by Left-leaning State Attorney Generals, etc.
Then, he nominated Neil Gorsuch to be the next SCOTUS justice, which was a universally-applauded pick, even by those on The Left TM. Which is the subject of this post.
Starting with Gorsuch. He's an imminently qualified, well-liked and thought of jurist, in the mold of Scalia, with perhaps a bit more concern about the encroachment to Liberty we face from the administrative state. He'll be a strong 4th Amendment advocate, which should please the libertarian-minded, and he has argued forcefully for religious liberty, and is a clear textualist, as was Scalia.
For conservatives, the pick is a home run.
Which is why he must be confirmed, and quickly.
What are the Democrats to do here?
Almost out of the box, their attack dogs, led by Oregon's Senator Ron Wyden, were painting Gorsuch as an ideologue determined to undo every civil liberty ever contemplated, and a danger to the American republic. This despite Wyden's own vote to confirm him to the 10thDistrict Court of Appeals in 2006.
This was followed by calls that this seat should not be filled because it was "stolen" by the GOP when they refused to even give Merrick Garland a hearing. Although that was a strategy that had been advocated by Joe Biden (remember him) in 2008, hypocrisy knows no boundaries in Democrat politics.
The fact on that argument is that the Supreme Court was a central theme, at least in conservative circles, and a key reason many reluctant Trump voters cast a ballot for him. If The Left couldnt' get out the vote for this for Hillary Clinton, well, isn't that on their hands? They held it within their own power to prevent a Trump nominee. They lost.
Now, we will have to deal with the filibuster.
The GOP needs to peel off 8 Dems to prevent a filibuster, and given 2018's electoral map, that may be entirely possible. I wonder how many of these 2018 Dems know they're dead senators walking and will just accept that and give in to their donor base and join a filibuster. My guess is a vote against Gorsuch for a senator such as Manchin, Heitkamp, Tester, Donnelly, etc, is more dangerous to their chances than losing money from rich, progressive donors.
I advocate 2 options here for the GOP, if the Dems threaten a filibuster and can sustain it with numbers:
- Force them to actually carry it out. Enjoy the spectacle of Democrat senators actually bringing the senate to a halt and cover it full time on C-SPAN. Change the rules so the Senate is in session 24/7 during it so they have to stay up all night. Make these old geezers pay for their recalcitrance.
- Nuke it.
For the Dems, what is the best political move here?
Given that the seat does not change the existing court balance, do they hold their fire for the next one, which will either be Kennedy or Ginsburg (my guessses). They'd certainly want to go hard after a choice for Ginsburg. If they retain the filibuster and give Gorsuch this seat, you might see Trump, in a Ginsburg situation, go for someone like Garland. In fact, were it me, and I knew that one would be filibustered, I would nominate Garland for Ginsburg. he's older, and wont' likely serve more than 20 years, and he's already been nominated by a Democrat. How would they filibuster that?
If they give up the filibuster and let the GOP nuke it, all future SCOTUS picks will be far right textualists. Trump has a list, and he'd use it. And he'd be mad enough to nominate the judges who piss the Dems off the most.
Also, nuking the filibuster will make Chuck Schumer and the Dems in Congress completely powerless for 2 years, most likely 4. Do the Dems really want to take that chance. I think they have to keep their powder dry.