Saying no to the GOP’s Supreme Court theft

     Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer of N.Y., left, meets with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, file)

    Senate Minority Leader Sen. Charles Schumer of N.Y., left, meets with Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, right, on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, file)

    Senate Democratic leaders intend to filibuster Neil Gorsuch, which basically means that Trump’s high court nominee will face a high  hurdle — 60 votes instead of 51. Democrats want to make his ascent as difficult as possible.

    Good.

    Because it’s only fair that the Republicans be forced to pay some kind of price for the crime of stealing.

    We’d almost forgotten about the Gorsuch nomination, right? In any normal administration, last week’s Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings would’ve dominated the news — but this abnormal administration is the ongoing target of a criminal espionage investigation, and it just suffered a predictably humiliating defeat when it tried to kill off health care for tens of millions of people. But now the Gorsuch story is truly front and center (assuming there isn’t a fresh Trumpster fire), with a major Senate showdown looming as early as next week.

    Do the filibuster. Force the Republicans to get 60 votes — which would require eight Democrats, not an easy task. Why should Chuck Schumer and his brethren make it easy for Gorsuch to get the job after what happened last year, when Republicans committed the outrageous partisan crime of obstructing Merrick Garland, refusing even to give him a hearing, and falsely claiming that lame-duck Barack Obama had no right to name a high court judge? Lame-duck Ronald Reagan got Anthony Kennedy onto the court in his final year, 1988, with unanimous Democratic approval.

    [Editor’s note: Reagan nominated Kennedy to the Supreme Court on Nov. 11, 1987, for the seat vacated by Lewis F. Powell, Jr., who announced his retirement in June of that year. Kennedy was his third nomination for the seat.]

    Garland had sterling qualifications — when he was confirmed for lower-court posts, he was lavishly praised by Republicans for his legal intellect — but, right to the bitter end, their hatred of Obama inspired them to obstruct. They defied their constitutional duty to advise and consent. Senate Democrats, by going to the mat over Gorsuch, need to remind Americans that the radical sabotaging of our system didn’t start with Trump.

    And this is a fortuitous moment to do so, with Trump in the doghouse. The latest Gallup poll puts his approval rating at a pathetic 36 percent, a nadir that no previous president had ever posted during the so-called honeymoon phase. As David Gergen, a past adviser to presidents of both parties, remarked the other night, “When you add up the totality of it … I actually think this may be the worst hundred days we’ve ever seen in a president.”

    Granted, a maximal Democratic stand against Gorsuch is largely symbolic. If the 52 Republicans can’t find eight Democrats to give them 60 votes, Gorsuch would become the first high court nominee to be successfully filibustered since Abe Fortas in 1968 — but it probably won’t matter. Mitch McConnell could simply “go nuclear” and get 51 Republicans to kill the filibuster rule for high court nominees. The filibuster option has long been a Senate tradition, a way for the minority party to flex a little muscle — but, as I said earlier, these are abnormal times, and the saboteur in the White House has already urged McConnell to go nuclear.

    Still, a symbolic stand gives Democrats a great opportunity to highlight the ruling party’s flaming hypocrisy.

    It has already been hilarious to hear the Republicans fume about the opposition to Gorsuch. Senator Lindsey Graham says of Gorsuch, “There’s no way you can argue that this man’s not qualified” — after having stiffed Merrick Garland, who was manifestly qualified. Senator Charles Grassley touts Gorsuch by saying that “if you’re voting on qualifications and not politics, you’d vote yes” — this, after ignoring Garland’s qualifications for the sake of politics. McConnell assails the Democrats’ “obstructionist tactics” — the same guy who orchestrated last year’s scorched-earth obstruction.

    But first prize, as always, goes to propaganda minister Sean Spicer (whom Vanity Fair’s Graydon Carter has dubbed “the M. C. Escher of the English language”). He says that Schumer’s decision to filibuster Gorsuch “represents the kind of partisanship that Americans have grown tired of.” This, from the guy whose partisanship compels him to lie daily, even about the size of an Inaugural crowd. Spicer also insists that Gorsuch deserves “a fair up and down vote,” which is rich, given the fact that Republicans refused to give Garland a hearing, much less a vote of any sort.

    So if Democrats are truly determined to draw a line in the sand, the time is now.

    Hey, remember John Boehner? The House Speaker who was driven from his job by the ideologues in his party who have no clue how to govern? He too has been sifting the ashes of the Trumpcare crash-and-burn. He gets the quote of the day. It’s more delicious than a hot fudge sundae:

    “In the 25 years that I served in the United States Congress, Republicans never, ever, one time agreed on what a health care proposal should look like. Not once. And all this happy talk that went on in November and December and January about repeal, repeal, repeal – yeah, we’ll do replace, replace — I started laughing.”

    Better than Spicer:

    On CNN last night, Trumpette Kayleigh McEnany sought to defend her president’s serial golfing with a little history lesson. She said, “We have President Obama, who after the beheading of Daniel Pearl, spoke to how upset he was about that, then rushed off to a golf game.”

    Journalist Daniel Pearl died in 2002. Obama didn’t become president until 2009.

    Follow me on Twitter, @dickpolman1, and on Facebook.

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