The alleged “nuclear” option of changing the filibuster rules on Supreme Court nominees has been invoked. Like it or not Neil Gorsuch will soon be on the Supreme Court.

As threatened, the GOP Triggers Nuclear Option, Gutting Filibuster in Gorsuch Fight.

Senate Republicans on Thursday voted to strip Democrats of the power to filibuster President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, invoking the so-called nuclear option.

Senators voted 52-48 along party lines to change the Senate’s precedent, lowering the threshold for advancing Neil Gorsuch from 60 votes to a simple majority.

The move sets up a final confirmation vote on Gorsuch for Friday afternoon, after another cloture vote later Thursday followed by thirty hours of more debate.

The American Bar Association rated Gorsuch as unanimously well-qualified, but Democrats criticized him for not revealing his personal judicial philosophy during confirmation as well as for several opinions they said showed he tended to favor powerful interests over “the little guy.”

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) argued that Republicans didn’t have to change the rules to put Gorsuch on the court, and that the more sensible option would have been to ask Trump to pick a new nominee.

He said replacing Gorsuch would be fair after Republicans refused to give President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or a vote last year.

What Goes Around Comes Around

In 2013, frustrated by repeated GOP filibusters of President Obama’s nominees, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) first employed the nuclear option to change the rules.

The 2013 nuclear option exempted judicial nominees below the level of Supreme Court from filibusters.

Republicans extended it.

Also, recall that Obamacare passed only because it was done in a reconciliation bill not subject to filibuster. If Obamacare is ever unwound, it will also be via budget reconciliation.

Thus, there’s plenty of hypocrisy in play.

Good Thing Or Not?

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) grumbled to reporters earlier in the week that whoever thought employing the nuclear option would make the Senate a better place is “a stupid idiot.”

I seldom agree with McCain on anything and welcome the day he retires or is voted out.

I look at situations like this pragmatically.

  1. The American Bar Association rated Gorsuch as unanimously well-qualified.
  2. He is absolutely the best nominee from Trump that the Democrats could possibly have expected.

I would prefer a justice who would uphold Roe vs. Wade. But anyone with that stated stance would not have been approved by this Senate if he or she managed to get nominated in the first place.

How Bad Could It Have Been?

Bill Pryor, the circuit judge for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit, made it to Trump’s final list.

Pryor’s views on abortion are extreme: William Pryor & Abortion: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know.

In contrast, Wikipedia notes that Neil Gorsuch “has never had the opportunity to write an opinion on Roe v. Wade. However, based on the opinions expressed in his book opposing euthanasia and assisted suicide, some speculate that he may tend to rule in favor of pro-life stances in abortion-related cases.”

Silver Lining?

The Wall Street Journal points out Judge Neil Gorsuch Is Critic of Legal Doctrine That Bolsters Executive Authority.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court, is seen by the right as a credible heir to the late Justice Antonin Scalia. But in one respect, his judicial record could offer Democrats something of a silver lining.

As a member of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Judge Gorsuch has emerged as a leading critic of a Reagan-era judicial doctrine that has helped to bolster the power of the executive branch.

Give Gorsuch a Chance

From my point of view, Democrats were damn fools to ask Trump to pick someone else.

We can all (except the homophobic radical right nut cases and radical right-to-lifers) be thankful that someone who openly opposes all abortions or who believes that gay people should be prosecuted for having sex, did not make it to the Supreme Court.

Pragmatically speaking, this is an excellent result.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock