As Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee continues to undergo his confirmation hearings with Congress, Senate Democrats are debating whether or not they should filibuster Neil Gorsuch’s appointment to the Supreme Court. Democrats and liberal commentators are clearly divided on the political implications and consequences of confirming the conservative 10th Circuit Court Justice to the highest court in the country.
On one hand, many Democratic pundits believe that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s previous obstruction of Merrick Garland, Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, warrants a filibuster of Trump’s Court pick.
Miles Mogulescu, a Huffington Post contributor, wrote an op-ed expressing his disgust with previous Republican obstruction, and discontent with Republican politicization of the Court.
Neil Gorsuch has sided with big businesses and corporations time and time again. He can't be trusted to defend workers' rights. pic.twitter.com/laIhOGMxhr
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) March 22, 2017
— The Democrats (@TheDemocrats) March 22, 2017
“If Democrats lack the backbone to filibuster…Gorsuch, the Koch Brothers and their fellow oligarchs will further succeed at reshaping the law to favor the wealthy elite and disadvantage the majority of working class and middle class Americans for the decades to come.”
Some outlets pointed out a double standard, and stated that if the Democrats were in line to appoint the next Supreme Court justice, they would demand further insight prior to installing a Justice that could outlast the current presidency.
Dear @TheDemocrats – There are no people who vote for Democrats who want you to "strike a deal on Gorsuch"*
*Except a few white pundits.
— David M. Perry (@Lollardfish) March 23, 2017
Democrats don't want to Filibuster Gorsuch, this is after GOP did it to them for a year.
Dems are weak, useless, yet still want our votes
— Omy (@bassomar_omy) March 23, 2017
“If the partisan dynamic were flipped, we can say with some certainty that Republicans would demand that the FBI investigation be resolved before the president’s Supreme Court nominee is considered for a lifetime appointment.” MSNBC reporter Steve Benen wrote, echoing Rachel Maddow’s concerns over appointing Gorsuch due to the recently uncovered FBI investigation of Trump’s ties to Russia. “So why not wait until the questions have answers?”
On the other hand, liberal commentators also understand the Democrats’ apprehension to obstruct or filibuster Gorsuch due to the potential political implications and precedents established from doing so.
— Sam Stein (@samsteinhp) March 23, 2017
The New York Times Editorial Board wrote an op-ed about the issue, understanding of the Senate Democrats’ current political conundrum and resentful of prior Republican obstruction of Garland: “If they attempt to filibuster – which would be an understandable reaction – it’s highly likely the Republicans will eliminate that tool, as the Democrats did in 2013 for lower-court nominations, and Judge Gorsuch will sail through.”
“The filibuster is the Democrats’ last line of defense,” wrote The Daily Beast’s Michael Tomasky, expanding on the true implication of a nuclear option, and emphasizing the value of Senate minority power. “It’s awful what the GOP did last year, but Trump did win, and the new ninth justice is going to be conservative to one degree or another.”
Politico’s Rich Lowry detailed just how different nominee Neil Gorsuch is from President Donald Trump, in an attempt to outline the hypocritical logic of Democratic obstruction “He is a responsible choice from what they consider an irresponsible president, and they should embrace him on those grounds.”
Lowry acknowledged the partisan and policy concerns the Democrats have with Gorsuch but argues that “the knee-jerk opposition to Gorsuch is a sign that Democrats either haven’t thought through what they believe about Trump or are seriously conflicted.”
Liberal pundits are also concerned about what kind of long term precedent Democratic obstruction will set as well as politicization of the courts in general.
“There’s no doubt that Republicans stole this Supreme Court seat from the American people, an abomination that will taint the judiciary for a lifetime if Gorsuch is confirmed,” wrote U.S. News & World Report’s Emily Arrowood. “But that doesn’t mean that Democrats should now do the same. Once the political weapon is deployed by both sides, it’s mutually assured destruction. An eye for an eye, and pretty soon the entire Supreme Court sits empty.”
According to a Boston Globe editorial, warding off the hyper-politicization of the court must take priority over partisanship. “As hard-edged as the nominee’s conservatism may be, Democrats in Congress should refrain from the temptation to filibuster… A pointless filibuster, however pleasing to partisans, would only continue the politicization of the courts.”
As the hearings continue, how Senate Democrats vote will be indicative with where their allegiances lie: their Constitutional obligation to confirm a Supreme Court Justice, or along partisan lines.