President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch is calming jittery GOP leaders while giving Democrats another headache. Most SCOTUS watchers agree that Gorsuch will fill the ideological space that Justice Scalia left when he died unexpectedly almost a year ago.
The Democrats are faced with the dilemma of using the filibuster to block Gorsuch’s nomination and likely provoking Senate Republicans to change the rules of the Senate allowing a simple majority to confirm a Supreme Court nominee.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell is reluctant to do so knowing that employing the so-called “nuclear option” means that expectations and decorum established over hundreds of years in the Senate will likely be erased forever.
For some, the Senate is the last (but dwindling) home of statesmanship in American politics. The Oval Office is occupied by a person who doesn’t give much credence to traditions of due process, vetting, thoughtful dialogue, or collaboration. Arguably he campaigned and won the election in part on the platform that these kinds of traditions impede the ability of government to get things done.
While the Senate may be the last bastion of statesmanship in our government, it has also seen an erosion in decorum and bipartisanship that marked it as a more measured and thoughtful body than the House. The battle in the coming weeks will be between the White House and Republican senators over whether the “nuclear option” is the most appropriate response to Democrats’ concerns over Neil Gorsuch. It remains to be seen if Senator McConnell will stand up to President Trump – he had all the spine he needed to stand up to President Obama.