Politics

Democrats Bitter Over Being Nuked on Supreme Court

Liberals lash out as GOP end-runs obstruction to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch

Senate Republicans used the “nuclear option” on Thursday, clearing the way for a late Friday morning vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

The 52-48 vote changes the longtime rules of the Senate, ending the use of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations.

“In legislation, you can always compromise by changing a sentence here or there. You can’t confirm part of a person.”

The Senate, under Democratic leadership, ended the filibuster for all presidential nominations, save those for the Supreme Court, in 2013.

The use of the nuclear option for Supreme Court nominations was not used.

But after Democrats made clear they would filibuster Gorsuch, whom President Donald Trump chose to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, the fate of the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations was sealed.

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“We will sadly point to today as a turning point in the history of the Senate and the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), the Senate minority leader.

Other Democrats aimed more of their bitterness at Gorsuch.

Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.) said he couldn’t believe Gorsuch’s nomination will advance, because “he plagiarizes.”

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Gorsuch has been accused of lifting a small portion of a medical description for a book he wrote. Supporters of Gorsuch called the attack a baseless “smear-job.”

But some Democrats and their allies made clear they wanted to move on, despite the history-making move by the GOP.

Sen. Angus King, an independent from Maine who caucuses with Democrats, said he was on his way to work on other things as he made his way through the Capitol.

King told reporters that there was no way to compromise, since there is no way to confirm only part of a nominee.

“In legislation, you can always compromise by changing a sentence here or there,” said King, an allusion to the fact filibuster rules on legislative matters outside of the budget have not been altered. “You can’t confirm part of a person.”

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) said he regretted the day’s events. Manchin, a moderate Democrat who will vote for Gorsuch, voted against changing the rules.

“I’m extremely sad,” said Manchin. “Everybody took the easy way out.”

Manchin said he never raised issues of ideology in calling for an up-or-down vote. Senate Republicans blame Schumer for making ideology such a top issue in the recent history of judicial nominations.

Not every Republican disagreed with Manchin on the filibuster’s validity.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) wouldn’t address the issue when asked by LifeZette in the Capitol. McCain previously erupted at the idea that the filibuster was best killed off, at least on Supreme Court nominations. McCain was prompted Tuesday by an unidentified reporter to react to individuals who say “the Senate will be a better place” after the nuclear option is invoked.

“I would like to meet that idiot,” McCain said. “I would like to meet that numbskull that would say that, that after 200 years — at least 100 years — of this tradition where the Senate has functioned pretty well, they think it’d be a good idea to blow it up.”

On Thursday afternoon, McCain would simply say to look at his statement.

The statement reads, in part, “I fear today’s action will irreparably damage the uniqueness of the Senate, and along with it, any hope of restoring meaningful bipartisanship. When then-Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) changed the Senate rules in 2013, there was no one more critical of his actions than me.”

Other Republicans declined to spike the football, instead talking up Gorsuch.

“I am really glad we are getting Gorsuch confirmed tomorrow. It’s great for the country,” said Sen. Luther Strange (R-Ala.).

meet the author

Political reporter, LifeZette. Indiana University journalism grad. Boston U. business grad. Former Indiana, Alabama statehouse reporter, Daytona Beach editorial writer.

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