On Thursday Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV), and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) became the first two Democrats to announce that they would support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court but that still leaves the GOP needing 6 more Democrat votes to get Gorsuch confirmed. The problem is that the Democrat Party is getting more and more rigid about standing against the President and many Democrats have already announced that they will be voting “NO” on Gorsuch, and some are even demanding the party filibuster his confirmation. There is a danger for the Democrats (and maybe America) if they don’t give the GOP 6 more votes to confirm.
If the GOP is unable to gather 60 “yes” votes for Judge Gorsuch, then Senator Mitch McConnell will feel forced into using the “nuclear option” to confirm him and this could have long-lasting effects on our nation’s future. (Though the impact is blunted by the fact that the Democrats have already practically destroyed the filibuster by using the “nuclear option” on everything but Supreme Court nominations.)
Some red state Democrats see the danger and are getting very worried about the impact the Gorsuch nomination could have on their personal political futures. Recently, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reported on some leaked audio of Missouri’s Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) telling some of her supporters that not confirming Judge Gorsuch could have a dramatic impact on the future of the Supreme Court.
In the leaked audio, McCaskill said she sympathized with the liberal base voters who wanted “to take a scalp” as payback for Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee. And she said some of Gorsuch’s “really disturbing” rulings have given her enough reason to vote against him…
“There is enough in his record that gives me pause,” she said. “So I am very comfortable voting against him, but I’m very uncomfortable being part of a strategy that’s going to open up the Supreme Court to a complete change.”
Even if Senate Democrats somehow derail Gorsuch’s nomination, McCaskill said it’s not clear what would come next.
“Let’s assume for the purposes of this discussion that we turn down Gorsuch, that there are not eight Democrats that vote to confirm him and therefore there’s not enough to put him on the Supreme Court. What then?” she said in the audio. “So they move it to 51 votes and they confirm either Gorsuch or they confirm the one after Gorsuch.”
Gorsuch would replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, one of the court’s leading conservatives. The stakes could be higher the next time a seat becomes empty, McCaskill said, especially if it’s vacated by one of the court’s liberals.
“God forbid, Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies. Or (Anthony) Kennedy retires. Or (Stephen) Breyer has a stroke or is no longer able to serve. Then we’re not talking about Scalia for Scalia, which is what Gorsuch is, we’re talking about Scalia for somebody on the court who shares our values. And then all of a sudden the things I fought for, with scars on my back to show (for) it in this state, are in jeopardy,” she said in the audio.
This is the reality. If Democrats cave and give Gorsuch the votes to be confirmed, it will give the GOP the judge they want… but it will make it harder for the GOP to use the nuclear option next time, because the Democrats will be able to say that they are willing to confirm “the right judge.” However, if Democrats stand firm and McConnell is forced to use the nuclear option now, it will mean an easy road ahead for the GOP to confirm more conservative judges if they retain the majority.
For red state Democrats it’s a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario… and it could not have happened to a better lot. I hope that whatever happens next, the Democrats are left hurting for the rhetoric they’ve used, and the decisions they’ve made.