It's not just four years, it's for life
Supreme Court protest an hour after the announcement of the nomination of Neil Gorsuch (Photo: Victoria Pickering, reproduced under a Creative Commons license)

Neo­fas­cist Don­ald Trump tonight announced he is nom­i­nat­ing an arch­con­ser­v­a­tive judge to fill the vacan­cy left by Antonin Scali­a’s death near­ly a year ago, which should have been filled last year, but was­n’t due to the obstruc­tion­ism of Sen­ate Repub­li­cans. Trump’s pick, Neil Gor­such, would be an almost sure vote to “to lim­it gay rights, uphold restric­tions on abor­tion and inval­i­date affir­ma­tive action pro­grams”, accord­ing to a study by Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­si­ty (PDF).

SCO­TUS­Blog has a roundup of reac­tion to the announce­ment.

Sen­ate Democ­rats must act to pre­vent our coun­try from going fur­ther down the path of fas­cism by fil­i­bus­ter­ing Gor­such’s nom­i­na­tion. Chuck Schumer has sig­naled the cau­cus will insist on a six­ty-vote thresh­old, which is good to hear, but we need to hear a sim­i­lar com­mit­ment from every oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic senator.

Fil­i­bus­ter­ing might not ulti­mate­ly stop Repub­li­cans (who have a Sen­ate major­i­ty) from con­firm­ing Gor­such, but it would at least pre­vent a rapid right wing takeover of the Supreme Court, which is very impor­tant. Repub­li­cans are on the precipice of hav­ing com­plete con­trol over every branch of the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment, from the pres­i­den­cy to Con­gress and now the Supreme Court.

Sen­ate Democ­rats must use the rules of the Sen­ate to resist the right wing’s plans for total dom­i­na­tion and defend the val­ues our coun­try was found­ed upon.

It's not just four years, it's for life
Supreme Court protest an hour after the announce­ment of the nom­i­na­tion of Neil Gor­such (Pho­to:
Vic­to­ria Pick­er­ing, repro­duced under a Cre­ative Com­mons license)

A few Sen­ate Democ­rats, like Delaware’s Chris Coons, have stat­ed pub­licly or hint­ed that they plan to tread care­ful­ly because don’t want to be seen as obstruc­tion­ist. Coons and any col­leagues who share his sen­ti­ments need to quit wor­ry­ing about how Repub­li­cans are going to por­tray them in the press, and grow a backbone.

Repub­li­cans have no com­pul­sion about alter­ing their stance on a dime; Sen­ate Democ­rats should­n’t either. Espe­cial­ly con­sid­er­ing the pre­car­i­ous sit­u­a­tion we’re in.

Repub­li­cans refused last year to even hold hear­ings on Pres­i­dent Oba­ma’s nom­i­nee Mer­rick Gar­land, and they went unpun­ished. They nar­row­ly held on to their major­i­ty in the 2016 elec­tions, which did­n’t go well for Democrats.

As a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor, Coons is one of the few peo­ple in this coun­try in a prime posi­tion to thwart Trump’s agen­da. Amer­i­ca’s has been grave­ly imper­iled as a con­se­quence of the 2016 elec­tions. Democ­rats like Coons need to buck up and fight like Repub­li­cans — or we will be in even greater trouble.

Not fil­i­bus­ter­ing Gor­such would be dis­as­trous. Any Demo­c­ra­t­ic sen­a­tor unwill­ing to block Gor­such’s nom­i­na­tion indef­i­nite­ly will be deserv­ing of a pri­ma­ry challenge.

This notion that the fil­i­buster needs to be saved for some future use is com­plete­ly ridicu­lous, and defies log­ic. If there was ever a time for the fil­i­buster to be employed, it is now. “Sav­ing” the fil­i­buster so it can be used lat­er is pointless.

If Repub­li­cans are will­ing to gut the fil­i­buster now to get what they want, they’ll be will­ing to gut it the next time there’s a Supreme Court vacan­cy, too.

So it would not be of any use then.

By fil­i­bus­ter­ing Gor­such, Sen­ate Democ­rats can back Repub­li­cans and Trump into a cor­ner. Gor­such’s nom­i­na­tion will either be on ice indef­i­nite­ly, or Repub­li­cans will be forced to pull the trig­ger on the so-called “nuclear option” and get rid of the fil­i­buster, which many of them (Mitch McConnell includ­ed) will be loathe to do.

If Repub­li­cans kill the fil­i­buster, it will mean that in the future, should they wind up in the minor­i­ty, they will have no abil­i­ty to block a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Pres­i­dent and a Demo­c­ra­t­ic Sen­ate from get­ting Supreme Court nom­i­nees con­firmed. They will have removed their own main means of obstruct­ing a Demo­c­ra­t­ic con­gres­sion­al major­i­ty and Pres­i­dent in the future by chang­ing the rules and tra­di­tions of the Senate.

Sen­ate Democ­rats can do their coun­try a great ser­vice by fil­i­bus­ter­ing Gor­such and forc­ing Mitch McConnell and Sen­ate Repub­li­cans to decide between keep­ing the fil­i­buster or con­firm­ing Trump’s man. Col­lab­o­ra­tion with the Trump regime is immoral. We call on Sen­a­tors Cantwell, Mur­ray, Wyden, Merkley, and all their col­leagues to fil­i­buster Gor­such and to not back down when hyp­o­crit­i­cal Sen­ate Repub­li­cans attack them for block­ing the right wing’s plans for total domination.

About the author

Andrew Villeneuve is the founder and executive director of the Northwest Progressive Institute, as well as the founder of NPI's sibling, the Northwest Progressive Foundation. He has worked to advance progressive causes for over two decades as a strategist, speaker, author, and organizer. Andrew is also a cybersecurity expert, a veteran facilitator, a delegate to the Washington State Democratic Central Committee, and a member of the Climate Reality Leadership Corps.

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