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Senator Schumer’s Selective Amnesia on Supreme Court Filibusters is Almost Laughable


The Democratic Senate Leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, told reporters on Wednesday that Democrats plan to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch‘s nomination to the Supreme Court.  According to Schumer, this is necessary because any Supreme Court nomination must be “mainstream” enough to achieve at least the 60 votes needed for cloture.  The Democrats are also fond of pointing out that each of President Obama’s confirmed nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, both achieved more than 60 votes in the Senate and therefore, he reasons, Judge Gorsuch should be held to the same standard and a cloture vote must be required.

However, it appears as though Senate Democrats are experiencing a little selective amnesia. What Schumer is doing is just plain old partisan politics.   You need look no further than the comments of Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon who made this statement before Trump’s pick was even announced:  “This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat.  We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”

Unfortunately for Sen. Merkley, Senate Republicans took an enormous political risk last year in deciding not to move on Merrick Garland.  We can debate the merits of the decisions forever, but the fact is voters chose not to punish Republicans at the ballot box in November and left them in control of the Senate.  As a result, the fate of Neil Gorsuch’s nomination is likely solely in the hands of the Republicans.

But what is even more outrageous about Senate Democrats treatment of Judge Gorsuch is this claim that he ought be held to a standard of 60 votes before receiving a final up or down vote.  In reality, 60 votes is not needed for confirmation. To confirm Gorsuch, Republicans only need a majority.

“We Democrats will insist on a rigorous but fair process,” Schumer said in speech in the Senate floor. “There will be 60 votes for confirmation. Any one member can require it. Many Democrats already have, and it is the right thing to do. On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support should be a prerequisite. It should be essential. That’s what 60 votes does.”

Then, before too long, the selective amnesia kicked in.

“It was a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominations,” Schumer said. “In my mind 60 votes is the appropriate way to go whether there is a Democratic president or a Republican president, a Democratic Senate or a Republican Senate.”

A similar message could be heard from Democratic Senate Whip Dick Durbin during an appearance on Morning Joe earlier in the day Wednesday.

“[Justice Gorsuch] should have a hearing and he should meet the voting standard that Supreme Court nominees are held to of 60 votes, a standard that was met by Elena Kagan as well as Sonia Sotomayor, President Obama’s choices,” Durbin said.

You see, what the esteemed Senator from New York and his Democratic colleague from Illinois are forgetting to tell the American public is that Republicans never required a cloture vote on either nomination for Kagan and Sotomayor.

According to The Hill newspaper, “Both of Obama’s nominees, Justices Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor, got bipartisan support, but were not filibustered by Republicans, who were then in the minority, or required to overcome a 60-threshold procedural vote.” (emphasis added).

It is fairly astounding that Sen. Schumer and fellow Democrats would forget something so important  . . . unless of course, they wanted to in order to play partisan politics.

What’s more, the only Supreme Court nominee since the modern era began in the 1980s to have to get passed a cloture vote was Republican George W. Bush appointee Samuel Alito in 2006.  Former President (then-Senator) Barack Obama was one of key Democrats to lead that charge, along with you guessed it. . . Chuck Schumer.   It ultimately failed and Judge Alito remains on the bench to this day.  Another reason you would think Schumer wouldn’t be so forgetful.

If Sen. Schumer follows through on the threat to hold Gorsuch to 60 votes, Politico writes it ” would be only the second time in modern history that the Senate has mounted a filibuster against a nominee.”  The other being Alito just 12 years ago.

The common denominator in both is Sen. Schumer and he should be ashamed.

[image via screengrab]


This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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