The filibuster fight over Gorsuch

Scott Johnson of the Power Line blog contrasts top U.S. senators’ approach to the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell appeared on both FOX News Sunday and Meet the Press, … mostly to address the prospective confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Senator McConnell spoke “with the calm confidence of a Christian holding four aces” (to borrow Walter Blair’s misquotation of Mark Twain). He vowed that Judge Gorsuch would be confirmed and that Democrats would dictate the manner of his confirmation.

McConnell noted that no Supreme Court nominee had ever been the subject of a partisan filibuster. He harked back to the confirmation of Clarence Thomas with 52 votes in 1991. He observed that Chuck Schumer and the Democrats had pioneered the use of the filibuster to block judicial nominees during the first term of the second President Bush. He laughed at Chuck Todd as Todd badgered him about Merrick Garland. I thought Senator McConnell was fantastic.

Senator McConnell suggested that Todd ask Senator Schumer about the history in which Schumer himself had a hand in the interview to follow. Up came Senator Schumer.

By contrast with Senator McConnell, Senator Schumer reminded me of the line from Cool Hand Luke: “Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand.” Most of the time, however, nothing is a losing hand. Thanks to Schumer’s predecessor and his imposition of the Reid Rule (with Schumer’s assistance and concurrence), Senator Schumer is playing a losing hand. That is my take on the interview.

Quotable quote (Senator McConnell): “I can tell you that Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed this week. How that happens really depends on our Democratic friends. How many of them are willing to oppose cloture, on a partisan basis, to kill a Supreme Court nominee? Never happened before in history, in the whole history of the country. In fact, filibustering judges at all is a rather recent phenomen[on] started by your next guest, Senator Schumer, after George Bush 43 got elected president. We didn’t used to do this. Clarence Thomas was confirmed 52-48, the most controversial Supreme Court nominee in history. And not a single Senator said he has to get 60 votes.”

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