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In a speech on the Senate floor, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said the Democrats’ threat to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination isn’t about the nominee, it’s about appeasing those on the left who are demanding gridlock.
SEN. MITCH MCCONNELL: So, when we hear our Democratic colleagues talk about breaking long standing precedent by mounting the first ever purely partisan filibuster to try to defeat his nomination, we can only assume one thing: This isn’t about the nominee at all. It’s about a few on the left whose priority is to obstruct this Senate and this president whenever and wherever they can. Months after the election, they’re still in campaign mode calling for Senate Democrats to obstruct and to resist.
Writing for the Washington Free Beacon, Cameron Cawthorne points out that just four years ago, Sens. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) and Dick Durbin (D-IL) and former Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV) made the case that judicial nominees deserve an up-or-down vote.
“Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) and Democrats in the Senate are trying to filibuster President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, a far cry from Schumer saying at a 2013 press conference that ‘no matter who’s in power,’ Democrats prefer up-or-down votes. ‘We much prefer the risk of up-or-down votes in majority rule, than the risk of continued total obstruction. That is the bottom line, no matter who’s in power,’ Schumer said during the press conference. But Democrats are distancing themselves from Schumer’s previous statements, and Schumer is now saying that the Supreme Court nominees should reach a threshold of 60 votes in the Senate. Schumer and Sen. Dick Durbin (D., Ill.), the Senate’s second-ranking Democrat, both called the 60-vote threshold a ‘standard’ for Supreme Court nominees. Democrats are holding to this statement, despite the Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler giving them ‘Two Pinocchios,’ calling their language ‘slippery’ and ‘misleading.’”
Grant Starrett points out at The Federalist that Republicans exercising the constitutional option would only be following the precedent set by Harry Reid.
“In 2013, Republicans were using Senate rules to block leftist judges from being confirmed. Reid did not have the 60 votes required to invoke cloture and shut off debate and he certainly did not have the 67 votes required to change the rule, so he decided to pull the nuclear trigger. Reid invoked a point of order to redefine the words ‘three-fifths’ to mean a ‘simple majority’ for judicial appointments below the Supreme Court. 51 Democrats supported the doublespeak, and the day after the Senate was forever changed… But the sad truth is that Harry Reid killed minority rights, and Republican majorities need to summon the courage to shrink government and advance a constitutional conservative agenda. If they don’t, then what’s the point of winning elections at all?”
Washington Post fact checker Glenn Kessler gives Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) “Three Pinocchios” for his “false talking point” claiming a “60-vote standard” for Supreme Court nominations.
“Democrats in the Senate continue to persist with the false talking point that they are simply holding Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch to a ‘standard’ of 60 votes when there is actually nothing standard about requiring a Supreme Court nominee to have 60 votes… Sanders was perfectly happy to call Republicans’ demands for 60 votes ‘filibusters.’ He should admit that’s what’s happening now, rather than engaging in verbal gymnastics to obscure the truth. Once again: There is no ‘traditional’ 60-vote ‘standard’ or ‘rule’ for Supreme Court nominations, no matter how much or how often Democrats claim otherwise.”
Matt Vespa reviews what Senate Democrats have said in the past regarding judicial nominations in Townhall.
“Also, when Senate Democrats decided to nuke the filibuster rules for non-Supreme Court nominees in 2013, Reid said that filibusters should only be applied to treaties and impeachment: ‘Remember for the first 140 years as a country, there were no filibusters. The founding fathers were very clear in what they thought there should be supermajorities [for]. Impeachments. And, of course, on treaties. And in the same paragraph, as it deals with two-thirds votes, specifically the founding fathers did not mention, at all, other things other than those two things that required a super majority.’ Schumer, at the time, said that Democrats would ‘much prefer the risk of up-or-down votes’ when it comes to majority rule than the risk of total obstruction. ‘No matter who’s in power,’ he said. Oh my, have times changed.”