April 6, 2017
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1. In Washington Post, former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott support restoring tradition of up-or-down votes for SCOTUS nominees.
“We have had the privilege of leading Republicans in the Senate, as majority and minority leaders. We love the United States Senate and the traditions, written and unwritten, of the world’s greatest deliberative body. But we have watched as Senate traditions have been steadily eroded, including the filibuster of Bush’s judicial nominees and the changing of the Senate rules to push through President Barack Obama’s lower-court nominees. Sadly, these short-term power plays are culminating in the current effort to deny an up-or-down vote to an utterly qualified nominee, who became a federal judge in the first place with the unanimous consent of the Senate. . . .
“So, for whatever our advice is worth, drawn from a combined 18 years as floor leaders: We support eliminating the pretense of a 60-vote ‘requirement.’ In the hands of today’s Democrats, 60 votes assures defeat of future Republican presidential nominees. As their opposition to Gorsuch shows, no similar nominee could ever be confirmed if that ‘requirement’ remains.”
2. John McCormack of The Weekly Standard reports that today’s Senate vote is welcome news for constitutionalists.
“Shortly after 12:30 p.m. on Thursday the answer became official: All 52 Republican senators voted to abolish the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, while all 48 members of the Democratic caucus voted to keep it. The Senate then voted to advance the Gorsuch nomination to a final confirmation vote on Friday. . . .
“In the long-run, the Senate’s vote on Thursday is likely a victory for constitutionalists. There was never any doubt, after Democrats abolished the filibuster for lower-court nominees and other executive branch nominees in 2012, that they would do the same in order to confirm a liberal activist appointed by a Democratic president. But there remained some question about whether or not a handful of Senate institutionalists within the GOP would allow a filibuster of a constitutionalist nominee and force a Republican president to name a more liberal nominee. Now we know the answer, and it’s an answer that should leave constitutionalists smiling.”
3. Josh Holmes writes in Politico that Senator McConnell is ending the judicial filibuster fight Chuck Schumer started during the Bush Administration.
“The Senate majority leader expends political capital with ruthless efficiency, using it only when it can accomplish precisely what he intends. McConnell doesn’t start many fights; he finishes them.
“As the Senate moves toward confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, that is exactly what is happening: McConnell is ending a fight that a young senator named Charles Schumer started nearly 15 years ago by rallying the first-ever partisan filibuster of a nominee to the D.C. Circuit Court: Miguel Estrada. Previously, the Senate’s ‘advise and consent’ role was vigorously deployed with fierce partisan tensions but ultimately settled with simple up-or-down majority votes.
“Fresh off a drubbing in the 2002 midterm elections, Schumer and a Democratic minority sought to invigorate their liberal base by changing all of that. . . . Despite earning a ‘well-qualified’ rating from the American Bar Association—the legal gold standard and seal of approval—Senate Democrats argued [Estrada] wasn’t qualified.”
“. . . Alas, despite 55 senators voting to end the blockade, Democrats sustained the filibuster—as they would with Estrada on an additional six separate occasions. He was forced to withdraw his nomination, and a new age of partisan filibuster was born. Within two years, Schumer’s tactic would be deployed to torpedo nine more of President George W. Bush’s nominees. . . .
“Nearly 15 years after Schumer started this fight, he will have a front row seat when McConnell finishes it. A uniquely perfect way for this story to end.”
4. At Real Clear Politics, Josh Krivitt urges his fellow Democrats to be honest about Judge Gorsuch’s record.
“[T]he suggestion that Neil Gorsuch always favors corporate interests over individuals is simply not correct. Just as he sided with corporations in some cases, he sided with the ‘little guy’ in others.
“One ‘little guy’ with whom Judge Gorsuch sided was Don Johnson, a seventy-nine year old retiree who worked in the coal mines for some 44 years. Mr. Johnson reported suffering the terrible symptoms of black lung disease, which can arise from prolonged exposure to coal dust. The coal company claimed that his disability resulted from smoking, not his days in the mines.
“Judge Gorsuch wrote the opinion in Energy West Mining Company v. Johnson affirming the decision ordering the company to compensate Mr. Johnson. The law was on Mr. Johnson’s side, so Judge Gorsuch was on his side too.
“In Avila v. Jostens Inc., he sided with Marcial Avila, an immigrant from Mexico, who spoke Spanish and had only a limited understanding of English, in his suit against his employer after a supervisor told him that that ‘if you don’t speak English, go back to Mexico,’ and fired him. After the lower court ruled for the employer, Judge Gorsuch sided with Mr. Avila, voting to allow Mr. Avila’s discrimination claim to proceed.
“And in Chapman v. Carmike Cinemas, Judge Gorsuch sided with Shannon Chapman against her employer when one of her supervisors sexually assaulted her. The lower court had held that her employer could not be held responsible for creating a hostile work environment; Judge Gorsuch voted to reverse that decision, allowing her case to proceed.
The fact is, Judge Gorsuch does not always side with ‘big corporations’; nor does he always side with the ‘little guy.’ The cartoon version of Judge Gorsuch that some have put forth bears no resemblance either to the man I have known for many years or his actual record on the bench.”
“You can always tell a lot about a public figure by how they treat people lower down on the pecking order when others are not watching. It is easy to appear friendly and kind when you’re in the spotlight (or under a magnifying glass) and are dealing with peers or people higher up the food chain.
“But in Judge Gorsuch’s case, he respected my viewpoint, treated me like a peer when he didn’t have to, and stuck his neck out for me time and time again when he stood nothing to gain.”