(NORTH SALEM, N.Y.) --It’s another depressing moment in Washington as we watch New York State Senior Sen. Chuck Schumer begin his maneuvering to attempt to stop Neil Gorsuch from reaching the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch, who was approved unanimously by voice vote in the U.S. Senate to become a federal judge in 2006, and currently serves on the 10th circuit, is clearly eminently qualified. In every administration heretofore, his nomination to the Supreme Court with a bipartisan majority would have been a snap. Throughout his appearance during the nomination process, his depth of reasoning and moderation of character shine through. These characteristics have been on display for the public to make note of all this week. As a result, Rasmussen is reporting that “49 percent of likely U.S. voters” believe that the shenanigans surrounding his nomination “is due mostly to partisan politics.”
Indeed, Judge Gorsuch has answered questions in a calm, thoughtful and restrained manner, even as some particularly stupid questions have been thrown at him. For example, Sen. Al Franken from Minnesota attempted to pin the words Reince Priebus used when discussing Judge Gorsuch at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) on the judge as a way to define his outlook. Gorsuch answered by pointing out, in his moderate fashion, “Respectfully, Senator, Mr. Priebus doesn’t speak for me and I don’t speak for him,” which is reasonable enough. But Franken could not leave well enough alone, asking further, “Are you comfortable with your nomination being described in such transactional terms?” as his voice projected disgust. The judge’s response was classic: There is a lot about this process I’m uncomfortable with,” Gorsuch replied. “A lot. But I’m not God. No one asked me to fix it.” Two things were clear enough. One was that Gorsuch was not enjoying the tone of his back and forth with Al Franken, who was trying to impute bad motivation to his face. In addition, Judge Gorsuch believes that it is the politicians, not the judges, who have made a mess of the whole nomination process. And that is true enough.
The judge is certainly right about the last point. The lack of comity in the Senate has been acute since Harry Reid triggered the “nuclear option” in 2013. At the time Sen.Reid said, “It’s time to get the Senate working again. Not for the good of the current Democratic majority, but for the good of the United States of America. It’s time to change the Senate before this institution becomes obsolete.” At the time, the move was widely predicted by critics to lead to disastrous results. Sen. Schumer now says he regrets that this occurred and that he spoke against it at the time, but he did not speak against it publicly at any length. And so here we are.
And speaking of being disgusted by the transactional nature of politics, according to Politico, a group of Senate Democrats is exploring the possibility of extracting concessions from Republicans in exchange for the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch. What they want in exchange is a firm commitment from Republicans “not to kill the filibuster for a subsequent vacancy during President Donald Trump’s term.” It’s hard to imagine that Sen. Franken was at the very least unaware of the transactional nature of that deal being proposed by his colleagues when he asked his question of Judge Gorsuch. Furthermore, Republicans would have to be insane to commit to a measure which would cause them to lose the ability to trigger the nuclear option and pass Judge Gorsuch with 50 votes, but allow Senate Democrats, once they are back in power, to have that right once again. For does anyone believe, with such leaders, that they would refrain when it was once again in their political interest to do so? That’s the problem with breaking an old standard. Once breeched, it is forever in danger of being breeched again and remains always vulnerable.
It was perfectly obvious in 2013, that Harry Reid was setting a future standard. That was the best reason to resist making that move. But Senate Democrats, in the majority since 2006, and drunk on their own power, were not predicting the end of their majority and their loss of the presidency any time soon; hence, they were unmoved by those stakes.
And how shortsighted that leadership has proven for American citizens who care for good working relations in the Senate, instead of the mere success of their ideology. The new Democrat policy appears to be to filibuster just about everyone President Trump nominates as a way to refuse to normalize him. As the Rasmussen poll cited above makes clear, that is not going to convince the voting populace at large that the current Democrat leadership is acting in any way for the for the good of the United States of America, but, instead, only for their own ideological interests.
Mara Schiffren is a writer and health coach who lives in North Salem