Monday, April 3, 2017

The Senate battle over Gorsuch is already over

Back in February, I posted this about how Mitch McConnell had already, for all practical purposes, used the nuclear option to eliminate the filibuster.  Gorsuch will be confirmed this week, unless there is some minor, pointless delay putting off the inevitable.  Democrats have lost.  They cannot filibuster.  The filibuster is gone.

Strategic arguments about what the Democrats should do miss the point.  They have no strategic options here.  None.  Should they actually go through with the filibuster?  Arguments against doing so follow one of two lines of reasoning:

1)  Gorsuch doesn't shift the ideological balance of the court because he replaces Scalia, so Democrats should keep their powder dry for the possibility of, say, Ginsberg dying.  If Trump got to replace her, that would shift the balance.

2)  Gorsuch is at least qualified and not a Bork-level culture warrior.  Democrats should keep their powder dry in case Trump goes overboard next time.

Both lines of reasoning rely on the faulty premise that Democrats have powder to keep dry.  They presume that there is some hypothetical future nominee that McConnell would allow them to filibuster without going nuclear.

The Democrats have already lost, not just this confirmation fight, but every confirmation fight as long as the line-up remains a Republican presidency and a Republican Senate.  How do we know this?  That was the whole point of the Garland fiasco, for which McConnell had the backing of his GOP Senate colleagues.

Democrats will never be allowed to filibuster a Republican's Supreme Court nominee.  So, what is the purpose of not filibustering so that the Republicans don't use the nuclear option formally, so that Democrats have the right to filibuster, which they can't ever use?

This is probably politically incorrect these days, but fuck it.  It's still funny.

For what it's worth, I covered some of the history in a November series called "The future of the filibuster."


  1. I think I've told you my strategy:
    filibuster the motion to proceed, but not the nomination itself.

    And promise to drop your filibuster the moment McConnell specifies the exact date on which Trump cannot nominate anyone.

    Make the media conversation about Garland and McConnell being a fucker. Every time a filibustering Senator gets asked on TV about it, say that you will vote against Gorsuch but not filibuster him....once McConnell admits that he is a motherfucker who makes shit up.

    Roast him on that.

    McConnell got away with this stuff last year because it was a presidential election year featuring Trump.

    Does it move the public? No. But, it does remind your base that you have principles.

    1. I don't think anyone besides a Congress junkie can tell the difference between filibustering the motion to proceed and filibustering the nomination, so it won't play any differently. I will admit to some surprise that Democrats actually talked about things other than Garland. Morons.