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The Politics of Gorsuch

Scalia Seat SCOTUSThere are three components of the Gorsuch nomination that need to be understood are as follows:

1.  This is a win for Trump and a vindication for many Trump voters.   It is inevitable that President Trump will get a SCOTUS nominee onto the bench, and there really is no reason to assume that it won’t be Neil Gorsuch.  This just comes with the territory of being President.  To pretend otherwise is just foolish.

Further, many Trump voters voted for Trump precisely for the purpose of getting a conservative onto the Court.  The confirmation of Gorsuch will wash away a lot of the other objections to Trump is minds of many of his voters (or, at least, it will justify their vote despite all the other issues).

2. Gorsuch is a mainstream Republican nominee.  So far as I can see, there is nothing about Gorsuch that would justify a filibuster (except, simply a change in the partisan dynamic of SCOTUS nominations).  Indeed, I have been struck by the degree to which the vast majority of Democratic objections to his nomination sounds like every other set of objections I have heard by Democrats concerning most Republican nominees.

The bottom line is this:  there is no likely Republican nominee that will please Democrats and, further, Republicans have no reason to capitulate to a more moderate nominee.

When Senator Schumer says the following, it honestly just sounds like political white noise to me insofar as a) he would have said it about any Trump nominee, b) it won’t make any difference, c) he is saying it for his constituency, not anyone else, and d) the notion of a “mainstream nominee” (i.e., one the Dems would like) is a silly formulation is this context:

“So instead of changing the rules, which is up to Mitch McConnell and the Republican majority, why doesn’t President Trump, Democrats and Republicans in the Senate sit down and try to come up with a mainstream nominee?”

3.  The nukes are available no matter what.  The fact of the matter is that the GOP can change the rules, so all of this posturing by the Democrats is pointless (apart from whatever aspect of political theater they think it is worth).

Now, the prequel to all of this was the death of Antonin Scalia and the subsequent nomination of Merrick Garland by President Obama and the subsequent refusal by the Republican majority in the Senate to consider the nomination.  Democrats are angry over this and want a pound of flesh for what they consider an abuse of power by the Republicans.

The hard truth for Democrats on Garland is this:  the Republicans gambled and won.  They were willing to pass on an older, moderate nominee with the hope that they would win the presidency while knowing that if the Democrats won the election that the new nominee would be younger and more liberal.  They won that wager.  Ultimately, there is no way around that.

I will conclude by pointing out that all of this made into such ridiculously high stakes by the fact that members of the judiciary serve for life.  I would highly recommend a system for the Supreme Court that looks more like the Federal Reserve (long, fixed terms), as well as instituting a mandatory retirement age (around the world it is typically 70 or 75).  The notion of life appointments really makes any nomination a big deal, especially since the trend in recent decades is to appoint as young a Justice as possible. Of course, that is a whole other conversation.

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About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is Professor of Political Science and Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Troy University. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    Interestingly, Turtle Face finally admitted what everyone knew before…
    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2017/04/mcconnell-rule-that-blocked-garland-not-actually-a-rule.html
    I agree with Chaitt…Dems should filibuster Gorsuch so that Republicans go nuclear.

    …let McConnell formally eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, so that they can confirm their nominees with 50 votes, too.

    More importantly, there are bigger problems with Gorsuch than just process; he’s written some really bad decisions. You cannot look at his “Frozen Trucker” dissent and think that this man is suited for a lifetime appointment. Gorsuch consistently decides against workers and women, against normal everyday Americans. Scalia was an awful, awful, Justice – the United States truly is better off with him dead. Gorsuch promises to be well to the right of even him.

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  2. al-Alameda says:

    Good opinion piece, Steven.
    Schumer is only doing what he has to do, it’s a necessary Kabuki.

    I think that what bothers me, and maybe most other Democrats most about this situation is that, normally you would have to acknowledge that a president will make nominations to the Court based on his/her ideological preferences as well as those of his/her party. That’s Political Reality 101.

    Completely true, except that current Republicans refused to hold hearings, for 11 months, on a sitting president’s nomination to the Court. They carpet bombed what is a normal and difficult enough-as-it-is process, made it inevitable Republicans will water board Democrats and jam Gorsuch’s nomination through.

    In my recent past life as a person who believes in adult governance, and facing up to political reality, I would have said, ‘well, Gorsuch is the nominee of the current president and the governing party, he’s very qualified, so acknowledge the numbers and move on.” In my re-calibrated life I favor making Republicans as uncomfortable as possible every step of the way.

    By the way, did you catch Chuck Todd intoning that because a couple of Democrats have indicated support for Gorsuch, there is bipartisan support. Wait, 2 out of 48?. But Chuck, how many Republicans will vote with Schumer? None? Oh, okay. Chuck Todd is one of those ‘both sides do it’ types, so I expect that garbage.

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  3. Lit3Bolt says:

    The Republicans have provoked a Constitutional crisis. If a President cannot sit a judge because the Senate refuses to give him a hearing, it is hard to argue that “TEH FOUNDERSZ INTENDED” for such an outcome. The Founders wrote the Constitution dismissing the possibility of political parties, which they promptly formed the instant the Convention was over.

    So now, any bullshit reason for a majority party in the Senate is now a given for refusing to seat justices. If the SCOTUS can go a year without replacing a justice, why not two years? Three? Four? Every other year is an election year, and so we must wait for the will of the people! It’s specious reasoning.

    So while poly sci academics may sigh wistfully at Mitch McConnell’s hardball tactics, strategically and logistically he’s opened up a can of worms. Eventually, one way or another, the Republicans will find themselves howling at the same tactics they invented applied against them.

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  4. Lit3Bolt says:

    @al-Alameda:

    The corporate media will always direct you towards Republicans. Always. “Daddy” is good, he lets you say what you want and gives you tax cuts. “Mommy” Democrat is bad, she wants you to treat even weirdos with respect and wants to take care of you, even if you don’t feel sick. “Mommy” is bad, but “Daddy” is fun. “Daddy” lets you get away with anything.

    It’s sad how far this metaphor can go….

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  5. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:
    Wow…7 down-votes in :20 minutes? That’s impressive. What’s got all of your panties in such a twist??? The idea that we are better off without the guy who was behind appointing a President by judicial fiat? As Scalia himself said about that decision:

    “Get over it.”

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  6. Jay L. Gischer says:

    I support your proposal of term limits or mandatory retirement for Justices, it would be a positive step.

    My biggest problem with Gorsuch is that he isn’t Merrick Garland. Why stop at stonewalling in the last year of a president’s term? Why not stonewall all of his nominees, from the start, if you can do it? Is that where we want to be?

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  7. al-Alameda says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    Wow…7 down-votes in :20 minutes? That’s impressive. What’s got all of your panties in such a twist???

    Yeah, it was probably this:

    Scalia was an awful, awful, Justice – the United States truly is better off with him dead.

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  8. gVOR08 says:

    I doubt this was really a big deal to many voters, on either side. If asked, “Is it important that Trump/Clinton be able to appoint justices?’ most people would say ‘yes’, despite never having thought about it before being asked.

    I agree Gorsuch is a mainstream Republican judge. But that’s like saying Ross Douthat is a leading Republican intellectual. It’s more a slam on Republicans than a compliment to Gorsuch. (To clarify, I’m not implying Gorsuch is stupid, but that he’s deeply embedded in the Republican establishment and their country club conservatism.) I see that the Koch Bros are spending piles of money pushing Gorsuch. That alone should be disqualifying. Does even Doug believe allowing unlimited dark money campaigns for Justices should be allowed?

    I expect Garland will be confirmed one way or another, despite it being the last year of Trump’s Presidency. And yes, Pence’s nominees will be worse.

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  9. Mr. Bluster says:

    I would highly recommend a system for the Supreme Court that looks more like the Federal Reserve (long, fixed terms), as well as instituting a mandatory retirement age (around the world it is typically 70 or 75).

    The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.
    The Congress, whenever two thirds of both Houses shall deem it necessary, shall propose Amendments to this Constitution, or, on the Application of the Legislatures of two thirds of the several States, shall call a Convention for proposing Amendments, which, in either Case, shall be valid to all Intents and Purposes, as Part of this Constitution, when ratified by the Legislatures of three fourths of the several States, or by Conventions in three fourths thereof, as the one or the other Mode of Ratification may be proposed by the Congress;..

    Two thirds of both houses will not deem it necessary to propose Amendments anytime soon. But I’m sure you would be glad to give up your back yard for a convention called by the Legislatures of two thirds of the States.

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  10. The bottom line is this: the Reps had the votes to block Garland and they have the votes to change the rules if necessary to confirm Gorsuch

    Hence, the notion that the Dems can extract anything other than some political theater out of this is simply wrong.

    Also: blowing up the filibuster here isn’t smart, because the next nominee might be objectijonable enough to forstall the nuclear option. This one simply isn’t.

    Quite frankly, letting the Dems go nuclear over Gorsuch strikes me as a win for Reps, not for Dems.

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  11. CSK says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    I don’t recall if you were here four or five years ago when we were criticizing (to put it very mildly) Sarah Palin at this site, but fairly frequently members of her internet defense squad would sign up, swoop in, and frantically downvote every negative (and there were plenty) comment about her. They only showed up when there was a post about Palin.

    Maybe something similar happened here.

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  12. @Mr. Bluster: There is a difference, of course, between making a recommendation and thinking that such a recommendation will be inacted.

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  13. Raoul says:

    Good article- two points of disagreement- 1 – Gorsuch appears very conservative- not mainstream at all -2- They are mainstream conservative jurists that could get confirmed.

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  14. SKI says:

    A few thoughts:

    1. I don’t think Gorsuch really is “mainstream”. His opinions demonstrate an almost pathological aversion to empathy and our court system is one of both law and equity. His tortured reasoning in the frozen trucker case is a good example but so are his responses to Senator Coons on the implications of his Hobby Lobby vote. He made very clear that he values politics and philosophy over the judicial neutrality and equity – despite his repeated denials of same.

    2. That the other side is capable of extreme measures isn’t a reason to fold. We know that the GOP don’t care about norms, we should force them to make it explicit

    3. Beyond Garland, I don’t think we can treat Trump as normal. We know his election would not be but-for Russian interference. That reality can’t be swept away. It can and must color everything.

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  15. @Mr. Bluster:

    I’m sure you would be glad to give up your back yard for a convention called by the Legislatures of two thirds of the States.

    I’m not sure how Steven feels about the idea of a Constitutional Convention such as this, although from what I recall of our mutual writing about this in the past that he’s more sympathetic to the idea than I am, but I would oppose this idea simply because I don’t trust the current political process to laying open the entire Constitution to Amendment that would be involved in such a Convention. This isn’t 1787 and we don’t have any equivalents of Madison, Mason, Hamilton, and Jay on either side of the political aisle today. A Constitutional Convention would end up looking too much like Congress to make me comfortable with it having that kind of power.

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  16. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Also: blowing up the filibuster here isn’t smart, because the next nominee might be objectijonable enough to forstall the nuclear option. This one simply isn’t.

    This presumes, wrongfully in my opinion and without any actual evidence, that if the Dems restrain this time, than the GOP will respect and honor that next time.

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  17. Mr. Bluster says:

    @gVOR08:..despite it being the last year of Trump’s Presidency.

    There you go again. Predicting the future.
    Put your money where your mouth is.
    Trump Impeachment Odds Now at 56%.

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  18. The hard truth for Democrats on Garland is this: the Republicans gambled and won. They were willing to pass on an older, moderate nominee with the hope that they would win the presidency while knowing that if the Democrats won the election that the new nominee would be younger and more liberal. They won that wager. Ultimately, there is no way around that.

    Exactly. I’ve been making this point since March of last year. There is nothing in the Constitution that requires the Senate to give a floor vote to everyone a President nominates and no time limit on how long a nomination can be pending before the Senate. In any case, Garland’s nomination died when the last Congress expired at the end of 2016. Talking about him now is a waste of time.

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  19. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The bottom line is this: the Reps had the votes to block Garland and they have the votes to change the rules if necessary to confirm Gorsuch

    Yup…and in the process they have provoked a Constitutional crisis. If they want to go nuclear and blow up the Constitution…then it’s on them. But to roll over for them…I wouldn’t do it.
    Butters is all concerned about the state of the courts and bi-partisanship.

    “We’ve entered a new phase in the U.S. Senate now,” Graham said, referring to the prospect of McConnell employing the nuclear option. “When it comes to judges, it will be a partisan exercise. There will be no need to reach across the aisle. That will take a toll on the Senate and the judiciary.”

    Well, where the fwck was he when Republicans were provoking this crisis?
    The other thing I didn’t mention above is that the so-called President is under investigation (several of them) for colluding with the enemy to get himself elected. Certainly that should be enough to push the pause button on a lifetime appointment.

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  20. Mr. Bluster says:

    @Doug Mataconis:..I don’t trust the current political process to laying open the entire Constitution to Amendment that would be involved in such a Convention.

    So I guess that’s a no go on the Monorail Amendment I was so hoping for.

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  21. MarkedMan says:

    Steven, overall I agree with you except for one nitpick. The Republican intransigence against Garland was not a strategy in any normal sense. The sad reality today is that in today’s Republican Party a Republican senator simply could not vote for a someone nominated by a Democratic president. The retaliation from the base would be too much. In fact, this is probably more than a not pic because it effectively means that the Democrats would have used the nuclear option for Garland had they had control of the Senate, and correctly so. And the Republicans will now use the nuclear option. And that is just the way it is. The filibuster for appointees is effectively dead, but not because of what the Democrats are doing now but because of the extreme partisanship present in the Senate.

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  22. @SKI:

    This presumes, wrongfully in my opinion and without any actual evidence, that if the Dems restrain this time, than the GOP will respect and honor that next time.

    No, what it presumes is that if there is another Supreme Court vacancy while Trump is POTUS and the GOP controls the Senate then it is likely to be to replace one of the three Justices that are over or approaching 80 — Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, or Stephen Breyer. Replacing either of these people would have a real impact on the ideological balance on the Court for decades to come. At least in theory, Democrats could have a better argument for blocking a very conservative nominee in this situation than they do now, when Gorsuch will be replacing a conservative Justice and his confirmation will have little impact on the direction of the Court in and of itself. They might even be able to persuade one or more of the more moderate Republicans, such as Murkowski or Collins, to join them under those circumstances. If they force a showdown now and the GOP takes Reid’s nuclear option to its logical conclusion then they will have no means of stopping the future conservative who might replace a Justice like Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy.

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  23. drj says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Talking about [Garland] now is a waste of time.

    The Republicans made an unprecedented move to rob a political opponent from even the opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court candidate so that their fellow Republican – who BTW was elected with active support from a hostile power – could eventually make that lifetime appointment instead.

    But since this is not strictly illegal, it’s all good? Can’t you see the enormity of what’s going on here?

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  24. Gavrilo says:

    Mitch McConnell made a big, tactical mistake last year. What the Republicans should have done with Garland was an immediate and vicious character assassination, sustained media campaign opposing him paid for by shadowy super pacs, a show-trial style Judiciary Committee hearing-complete with media leaks detailing his online search history, a detailed report misrepresenting his lower court rulings, and finally a floor vote in which he is defeated on a largely party-line basis.

    Instead, Merrick Garland gets to walk away, reputation intact, earning praise from all corners. The horror!

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  25. @SKI:

    I don’t think Gorsuch really is “mainstream”.

    He is a mainstream Republican, or to put another way, not outside the norm of what we could reasonably expect from a Republican President nominating to a Republican majority Senate.

    He may not be “mainstream” in terms of all of American politics, but nominees rarely are, since they are made by partisan actors in a partisan process.

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  26. @SKI:

    This presumes, wrongfully in my opinion and without any actual evidence, that if the Dems restrain this time, than the GOP will respect and honor that next time.

    You miss my point (or, more likely, I am being unclear).

    The Dems cannot stop the nuclear option, so they cannot stop Gorsuch.

    Hence, it is better to preserve the filibuster for the moment, on the off chance they can leverage it in the future–say for a candidate that a handful of Reps have qualms over. This is not because of any issue of honor or comity.

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  27. @drj:

    First of all the failure to give Garland a vote was not unprecedented. There are several examples of the same thing from American history, including a period of more than two years in the 19th Century when the Senate refused to act on a President’s nomination and a seat on the Supreme Court went vacant. More recently, the Senate refused to move forward on two of President Nixon’s nomination and those nominations well pulled and replaced, one of them with William Rehnquist, who eventually became Chief Justice.

    Second, as I said there was no rule against what the GOP did vis a vis Garland so, yes, the only relevant question is whether it was smart politically. At the time, it didn’t appear to be since the conventional wisdom right up to Election Day was that Hillary Clinton would win and replace Garland with a younger, even more liberal, nominee of her choosing. It turns out that game paid off.

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  28. @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    in the process they have provoked a Constitutional crisis.

    Except they haven’t. The Court operated with 8 Justices (and that did not violate the Constitution, which had no requirement for a specific number). And any fight over the filibuster is an internal issue for the Senate, and it is their constitutional prerogative to set their own rules.

    Look: I do not like what happened with Garland, but it was not a crisis nor is the current circumstance.

    And if the Dems want to provoke the nuclear option for the sake of making a point, that is all well and good, but it won’t change the Garland situation nor will it stop Gorsuch from being confirmed.

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  29. @Gavrilo:

    I don’t think McConnell cares that Garland got away with an unscathed reputation. That battle was never about him per se. It was a political gamble that the GOP would win the Presidency and get an immediate and early SCOTUS nomination. As it turns out, the game paid off, but it easily could not have if Hillary had won the election.

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  30. Kylopod says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    If they want to go nuclear and blow up the Constitution

    You do realize the filibuster is not in the Constitution at all?

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  31. @Doug Mataconis:

    I’m not sure how Steven feels about the idea of a Constitutional Convention

    In the abstract, I think we need serious constitutional reform. However, we are not at the appropriate point for a convention, so the status quo will have to continue.

    Really, my view is that some of these issue might rise to the level of amendment if enough people understood them, but I fully recognize the low probability of that.

    On balance, I am fully of the view that our main problem is that public (and I mean the educated public) don’t know what they don’t know about the constitution works (or doesn’t) and what other options exist and why they should be considered. As such, I just would like to see some conversations started on this stuff.

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  32. Look:

    1) Dems are angry about Garland and they want either some kind of revenge or at least acknowledgement that they were wronged. I see no pathway for either of those things in the current process (certainly not that will be satisfying to the angry).

    2) The Dems can’t stop Grosuch’s confirmation if the Reps are willing and able to go nuclear over it. That means it is pointless to go that route.

    3) Preserving the filibuster at least gives the potential for some kind of leverage in the future.

    This is a McCoy v. Spock debate:

    Mr. Spock: “Really, Dr. McCoy, you must learn to govern your passions. They will be your undoing. Logic suggests…”
    Dr. McCoy: “Logic?! My God, man’s talking about logic! We’re talking about universal Armageddon! You green-blooded, inhuman–!”

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  33. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Kylopod:
    Understood…I was referring to the entire scenario.

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  34. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    3) Preserving the filibuster at least gives the potential for some kind of leverage in the future.

    It may be a non-zero chance but I don’t see any evidence that it is materially greater than de minimus (to steal a phrase from the unanimous SCOTUS opinion that just repudiated another opinion Gorsuch joined in that demonstrates a lack of soul and empathy).

    Given that, it is in fact logical to demonstrate to your base – and the rest of the country – that you actually have a backbone.

    At some point for many citizens, political viability is about strength and willingness to fight. The b*tch-slap theory of electoral politics if you will. You seem to be ignoring that factor in your calculations.

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  35. drj says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    First of all the failure to give Garland a vote was not unprecedented.

    Nixon got to nominate another couple of candidates who were then duly confirmed. This is, of course, wholly incomparable to the Merrick Garland situation.

    Which means you’re left with a single two hundred years old “precedent.” That’s not much of a precedent at all.

    Second, as I said there was no rule against what the GOP did vis a vis Garland so, yes, the only relevant question is whether it was smart politically.

    So well-established rules, morality, decency, or even patriotism play no role? You don’t mind that a party that is willfully closing its eyes to the active Russian support it received to get its candidate elected President, gets to fill the Supreme Court of the US?

    Because “there is no rule against it?”

    That’s pretty cold…

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  36. @SKI: Backbone demonstration is, in my opinion, overrated. This is especially true when the only people you will impress will vote for you anyway.

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  37. Moosebreath says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    “In any case, Garland’s nomination died when the last Congress expired at the end of 2016. Talking about him now is a waste of time.”

    Robert Bork’s nomination was over 30 years ago. And yet Republicans bring him up as if it just happened last week.

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Also: blowing up the filibuster here isn’t smart, because the next nominee might be objectijonable enough to forstall the nuclear option. This one simply isn’t.”

    If the next nominee is actually objectionable to Republicans, then there won’t be 50 votes plus the VP, to confirm him. Expecting Republicans to not use the nuclear option for a nominee they support (now or in the future) is silly, especially if the justice would be the fifth vote to overturn Roe v. Wade

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  38. Gustopher says:

    I will conclude by pointing out that all of this made into such ridiculously high stakes by the fact that members of the judiciary serve for life.

    This is why I will be setting up a charity to provide Gorsuch with bacon, butter and beer…

    Chicken fried bacon, slathered in butter and washed down with beer — if we can get him on that diet for a few years, this whole lifetime appointment thing won’t be a big deal, especially if we can cut his health insurance.

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  39. Tony W says:

    Republicans: “Don’t make me kill this kitten!”

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  40. Mr. Bluster says:

    Conversation starts here. My proposed changes in bold.

    No Person except a natural born Citizen, or a Citizen of the United States, at the time of the Adoption of this Constitution, shall be eligible to the Office of President; neither shall any person be eligible to that Office who shall not have attained to the Age of thirty five Years, and been fourteen Years a Resident within the United States. Nor shall they be a sexual pervert.

    This isn’t too specific, is it?

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  41. @Steven L. Taylor:

    Conversations would be a good idea.

    I’m finding, though, that polarization has become such a problem that conversation is becoming more and more difficult.

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  42. @Moosebreath:

    If the next nominee is actually objectionable to Republicans, then there won’t be 50 votes

    I am suggesting a scenario in which the nominee’s supoprt is soft enough that it might forestall the nuclear option. One who ended up being somewhat controversial once the hearing had been held.

    I recognize that this is theorizing about future that may not happen.

    Still: what does one gain from triggering the nuclear option over Gorsuch? This is the central question.

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  43. @drj:

    Actually, there was more than one incident and more than the Nixon incidents. I merely cited the two-year long vacancy as an extreme example of exactly the same thing that happened with Garland.

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  44. @drj:

    Because “there is no rule against it?”

    That’s pretty cold…

    Welcome to the world of politics.

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  45. gVOR08 says:

    My feelings about the Constitution and the possibility of a convention were summed up by Hillaire Belloc,

    And always keep ahold of nurse
    For fear of finding something worse.

    No matter how many issues I have with the Constitution, the thought of a constitutional convention, surrounded by thousands of lobbyists and a wall of Koch Bros et al money, is too frightening to contemplate.

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  46. Tony W says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    If they force a showdown now and the GOP takes Reid’s nuclear option to its logical conclusion then they will have no means of stopping the future conservative who might replace a Justice like Ginsburg, Breyer, or Kennedy.

    it’s cute that you think the Republican’s would just do this anyway. Were you present during the Obama administration?

    The Republicans care nothing for precedent and decorum. They care about corporate power. Period. And they will use whatever means necessary to uphold and support the oligarchy.

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  47. reid says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Indeed, I just saw a clip of Graham where he had the audacity to say that it’s not fair for the Democrats to get their judges and Trump to not get his. It’s like Garland never happened.

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  48. Gavrilo says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I don’t think McConnell cares that Garland got away with an unscathed reputation.

    Agreed. But, for all the talk about the “unprecedented” denial of a hearing and a vote for Garland, the alternative scenario easily could have been what I described. At least there’s precedent for it. Would Democrats feel better if it had gone down that way?

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  49. drj says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Welcome to the world of politics.

    I call bullshit. Looking the other way while your candidate gets a couple of illegal assists from a hostile power is not politics as usual. Not by a long shot.

    And even if it were, the appropriate response would be to fight a situation like that, not to shrug it off.

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  50. Ratufa says:

    @gVOR08:

    I doubt this was really a big deal to many voters, on either side.

    Many conservatives, especially religious conservatives, are still seething over Obergefell, and Roe v. Wade. For them SCOTUS picks are a very big deal. It’s one of the reasons that made it easier for some religious conservatives to hold their noses and vote for Trump.

    In terms of what the Democrats should do wrt Goresuch, I agree with Steve Taylor — the Republicans won their gamble with Garland, and Democrats are gambling themselves if they think they’re going to get a less objectionable nominee from Trump, and deluding themselves if they think they can block Trump’s (or Pence’s, if it comes to that) nominees for the next 4 years. The complaints over what happened to Garland are reminiscent of the discussions about the electoral college after the election wrt some of the magical thinking and complaints about unfairness.

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  51. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “I am suggesting a scenario in which the nominee’s supoprt is soft enough that it might forestall the nuclear option. One who ended up being somewhat controversial once the hearing had been held.”

    Hollow laughter is the only proper response to this.

    “Still: what does one gain from triggering the nuclear option over Gorsuch? This is the central question.”

    1. it rallies the base, by showing that they are willing to fight for something, rather than concede when faced by long odds.

    2. I believe (and I suspect most Democrats do as well) that removing the filibuster wherever and whenever is a good thing over the long haul. Having the Republicans’ fingerprints on removing it in this case makes it easier to claim in any future situation that neither side respects it when inconvenient.

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  52. David M says:

    Everyone is correct that the GOP can seat Gorsuch if they want. However, I think some greatly underestimate the message not filibustering sends to the Democratic base and the GOP. The Democratic base doesn’t think the GOP will *ever* seat another Democratic nominee. Ever. (And the evidence would support this in my opinion.) So allowing the filibuster to exist as a tool that only the GOP can use is not going to be tolerated. Watching the GOP kill Garland’s nomination without any consequences is not something I think the Democratic base is prepared to accept.

    If the GOP is going to seat Gorsuch, at least the Democrats can get the ability to seat a judge in the future out of it.

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  53. @drj:

    This has nothing to do with the allegations regarding Russia, which I have been saying for months need to be investigated thoroughly.

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  54. @Tony W:

    Were you present during the Obama administration?

    Were you present during the Bush 43 Administration when Democrats blocked more than a dozen of his judicial nominations?

    In both cases the Senate minority used the rules to get what they wanted. If it was okay for the Democrats to do it, it was okay for the GOP to do it, and vice versa.

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  55. teve tory says:

    deluding themselves if they think they can block Trump’s (or Pence’s, if it comes to that) nominees for the next 4 years.

    They’re not trying to block nominees for 4 years.

    One of the most successful strategies in the iterated form of The Prisoner’s Dilemma is called Tit for Tat. Basically, you do to the other guy whatever he just did to you. He treats you nice, you treat him nice. He fucks you over, you fuck him over. GOP screwed over Garland, Dems screw over Gorsuch. Game Theory says this is the Dems’ best move.

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  56. michael reynolds says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The filibuster is meaningless if it can be revoked at will. It’s an illusion. It does not exist. So we lose nothing by opposing Gorsuch.

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  57. al-Alameda says:

    A couple of observations:

    (1) When it comes to prospective nominees to the Supreme Court, I suppose we can look forward to arguments that we cannot entertain hearings on the nominee because: “mid term elections may change our Congress, and we must wait until that’s resolved.”

    We’ve already blessed the “there’s a presidential election 11 months off, so we must wait until that’s resolved” approach, so we’re good to go on that one.

    (2) A Constitutional Convention with this Congress?
    I’d rather have Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé do the re-write than Ted Cruz or Paul Ryan.

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  58. Tony W says:

    @Doug Mataconis: To be clear: I have few issues with the Senate removing the filibuster. I’m not a fan of moving the goalposts, but such is politics.

    However, for the Republicans to dismiss the filibuster at this juncture, and claim their hand was forced by the evil D minority strikes me as their typical pattern of projection and self-victimization.

    This is the weakest example of leadership I have seen from an administration/Congress in my lifetime, and I was politically conscious during the Carter administration.

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  59. Tony W says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    This has nothing to do with the allegations regarding Russia, which I have been saying for months need to be investigated thoroughly.

    Except, of course, that the Russians may have not just influenced a presidency but also the entire supreme court.

    Perhaps the Gorsuch nomination is part of the deal with Putin?

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  60. In regards to “the base”–the notion that they need some reason to get fired up over Trump strikes me as kind of silly.

    The results of the electoral college vs. the popular vote will be more than enough to motivate “the base” when the time comes to vote.

    People who are motivated by arcane discussions of the filibuster, cloture, and the nuclear option are already plenty motivated.

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  61. @michael reynolds:

    The filibuster is meaningless if it can be revoked at will. It’s an illusion. It does not exist. So we lose nothing by opposing Gorsuch.

    Ultimately, it is not much of win either way, in my opinion.

    All I am really saying is that I can see at least some small potential for leverage in the future and I can see zero usefulness is going nuclear now, as it will simply be cast as a huge victory for the Reps, as they will have confirmed Gorsuch and will have neutered the Dems even further.

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  62. @teve tory:

    Basically, you do to the other guy whatever he just did to you.

    The fundamental point is: the Dems can’t do to the Reps what they did to them.

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  63. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    And if the Dems want to provoke the nuclear option for the sake of making a point, that is all well and good, but it won’t change the Garland situation nor will it stop Gorsuch from being confirmed.

    I think it’s a mistake to look at this as an isolated event or, if you include Garland, two.
    The Constitution is a fine document. But what really makes the Government work is a bunch of social norms and traditions. Those have been disintegrating for some time now. Filibusters were supposed to be rare; then they became routine. Filibusters weren’t supposed to apply to judicial nominations, then they did. The majority would never dream of changing the filibuster rules, the minority party would never plan to obstruct everything a President tried to do even before he took office, and it would never threaten to default on our debt in order to extort concessions from the Executive branch. Then all those things happened.
    I think we can all agree none of the above is good. What I can’t agree with is just shrugging my shoulders and uttering a disappointed, “meh”.
    Republicans got to this point by being willing to burn it all down.
    Fwck it. Fight fire with fire. If they want to burn it down…have at it.
    Something has to happen to get the Government back on the right track. It won’t get there by doing nothing. If this is the tipping point, then great.

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  64. teve tory says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: no, but they can signal. There’s no percentage in rolling over. If McConnell is going to trash the filibuster now he’d trash it in the future, it’s naive to think otherwise. Might as well signal your willingness to fight if that’s all you can do.

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  65. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I’m in agreement. For effective resistance, Pelosi and Schumer need to strategize with members of their caucuses to find ways to start as many fights within the congressional Republicans as possible. Appropriations bills might be one place to start. It’s already a given that Mulvaney will try to convince Trump to inflict as much budgetary pain as possible; but that might be a weapon the Democrats could turn against the GOP.

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  66. @teve tory: It will be interesting to see how the story plays out. I am guessing it is more likely that the take-away will be “Huge Victory for Trump and GOP” not “Democrats Demonstrate Backbone.”

    But, we shall see.

    In truth, neither story line is likely to matter much. But, what will be true: Gorsuch will be on SCOTUS and the GOP will have a clear road to confirm the next one.

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  67. Moosebreath says:

    Further response outsourced to Martin Longman:

    “If Trump or McConnell wanted to avoid a filibuster, they needed to do what is normally done, which is to consult with the Democratic leadership about which potential nominees they would find objectionable and which they could see their way to confirming. But there was no consultation before Gorsuch was named. It was just assumed that the Democrats would roll over and confirm him despite what the Republicans had done to block Merrick Garland without cause last year.

    The Republicans did nothing to avoid a filibuster.”

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  68. teve tory says:

    There’s something you’re not considering–If Gorsuch gets filibustered now, the Dems made their point, the GOP nominates another mainstream conservative justice, and he gets through. No real loss. If Ginsburg or Kennedy retires, seating that nominee would dramatically tip the balance of the court. No Fucking Way the GOP lets that seat get filibustered. If there’s any chance of a filibuster working it’s now on Gorsuch, no way on the next one. Thinking the GOP is more likely to break the filibuster on this seat instead of the next one is exactly backwards.

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  69. Rick DeMent says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The fundamental point is: the Dems can’t do to the Reps what they did to them.

    I don’t see anything to disagree with you here but frankly if the Republicans are going to go nuclear on the Supreme Court, they are going to do it and whether it’s this nominee or the next, they will do it. So let’s get it with it be done with. They might as well get rid of the filibuster for legislation, becase they are going to do that too. There is no way they are going to take the crap they dished out over the last 8 years.

    The more crazy crap they pass the better in the long run becase they will own it and there will be no drama about who on the Democratic side does or does not support the filibuster on any given piece of legislation. So the Dems won;t have to worry about infighting.

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  70. @Rick DeMent:

    they are going to do it and whether it’s this nominee or the next, they will do it. So let’s get it with it be done with.

    This strikes me as a reasonable position.

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  71. gVOR08 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The results of the electoral college vs. the popular vote will be more than enough to motivate “the base” when the time comes to vote.

    That, and the intervening horrors of the Trump/McConnell/Ryan regime.

    People who are motivated by arcane discussions of the filibuster, cloture, and the nuclear option are already plenty motivated.

    You’re probably right that the headlines will mostly read ‘Republicans Win’. When Comey said they’d found more emails, people may have later seen headlines that said ‘Nothing In Latest Hillary Emahopefully some people will hear ‘GORSUCH BAD’ and ‘DEMS FIGHT’. Dems need to get in the habit of fighting, and being seen fighting.

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  72. gVOR08 says:

    30,000 foot view. You’ve seen the charts that show the ideology of the Ds in the congress and the Rs. Generally presented as two bell curves, blue on the left and red on the right. They used to overlap quite a bit. There were many Dems to the right of the more liberal Rs and and many Rs to the left of the most conservative Rs. It was easy to find nominees in the fairly broad middle who could attract a few votes from the other party.

    I would add that it doesn’t look like the Ds have moved much. There are new issues like gay and trans rights. But on economic, foreign policy, environmental, etc. issues, where have the Dems moved left? If anything, I they’ve moved right, into the unoccupied space that used to be the middle.

    But the Rs moved way right. Now the two bell curves are far apart, there is essentially no middle. A nominee on the left edge of the GOP curve is still way to the right of any Dem, and will be seen as a RW ideologue. It’s hard to see how any form of comity can survive such extreme polarization.

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  73. gVOR08 says:

    I told a commenter on another blog that I was going to steal his joke:

    Ayn Rand, Rand Paul, and Paul Ryan walk into a bar. There are no regulations so the bartender serves them tainted wine. They die.

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  74. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Well, good. This is more logical than “Well, the Dems should keep their powder dry and wait for Mitch McConnell to act with honor and decency.” The dude voted for his own wife onto the Cabinet.

    Gorsuch will be seated on the Court one way or the other. So why not milk some political theater from it, and hang the nuking of the filibuster on Republicans’ necks?

    I cannot envision any circumstances where if another SCOTUS seat opened up, the GOP would honor the 60 vote threshold.

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  75. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    At least in theory, Democrats could have a better argument for blocking a very conservative nominee in this situation than they do now, when Gorsuch will be replacing a conservative Justice and his confirmation will have little impact on the direction of the Court in and of itself.

    What on earth makes you think that “a better argument” is relevant in any way to how the GOP would react to such a thing?

    Arguments are so 20th-century. I agree with several commenters above that, since the Dems have zero chance to influence who actually gets appointed, they should act to maximize the degree to which history blames those appointments on the GOP. And they should be up front about that, saying for the record “We are taking this position so that when future generations look back at the contemptible things this Court will have done, they know exactly who to blame.” It’s a long game, but the only one they’ve got.

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  76. @DrDaveT:

    Under current circumstances, all the Democrats would need to do is force defections from three Republicans. That’s not impossible under the right circumstances and, in any case, if you can’t see that it would be smarter to fight this battle over a nominee that actually will have an impact on the future direction of the Court then there’s nothing more for me to say.

    Enjoy watching the Democrats go through an entirely pointless exercise this week. And don’t bother complaining if and when the next SCOTUS nominee gets approved by a simple majority and really changes the direction of the Court.

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  77. @Lit3Bolt:

    If you really think voters are going to care about what happened to the judicial filibuster in this case, you’re pretty naive. Most Americans don’t care about process issues like this.

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  78. DRE says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    They might even be able to persuade one or more of the more moderate Republicans, such as Murkowski or Collins, to join them under those circumstances.

    If you could get the votes to block a rule change in that situation, you could get the votes to block the nominee. Saving the filibuster for next time would be pointless. It’s political theater either way.

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  79. @Lit3Bolt:

    Well, good. This is more logical than “Well, the Dems should keep their powder dry and wait for Mitch McConnell to act with honor and decency.”

    This was never my position.

    My position is: they are going to lose over Gorsuch, but get to choose how they lose.

    Since I see no big win for them here, save the nuclear fight for the future when it might (but might not be, I will readily allow) more useful.

    I am just doing basic math: I see little benefit now and maybe some benefit in the future. So, I say wait.

    However, it is not unreasonable to say, as Rick did: just get it over with.

    What I think is not true, which seems to be what a lot of folks are arguing here, that forcing the Reps to go nuclear is some kind of payback for Garland. IMHO, the Reps are saying “don’t throw us in that brier patch” in regards to going nuclear. They want to go nuclear, so why give them Gorsuch and the nuclear option? It strikes me as lose-lose (and will be presented that way in the press and by Trump).

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  80. Pch101 says:

    There are establishment Republicans who would prefer to avoid going nuclear if given the opportunity.

    If the Democrats can horsetrade a confirmation vote in order to get something that they want in return, then that would be reasonable. But I’m not sure if that’s possible.

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  81. @Pch101:

    There are establishment Republicans who would prefer to avoid going nuclear if given the opportunity.

    If the Democrats can horsetrade a confirmation vote in order to get something that they want in return, then that would be reasonable. But I’m not sure if that’s possible.

    This is perhaps a better of way of getting at where I coming from. At the moment they appear not to be able to make any deals with those Reps who might want to avoid going nuclear. Since it would seem that at the moment the Dems are going to force an outcome that will result in the nuclear option and Gorsuch being confirmed, why not hold off on the nuclear bit on the chance (and I will readily allow it may only be a small chance) to use it in a bargain in the future.

    In other words: I just don’t see the advantage is the pending double loss without getting something out of the deal.

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  82. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    What I think is not true, which seems to be what a lot of folks are arguing here, that forcing the Reps to go nuclear is some kind of payback for Garland.

    Is anyone actually arguing this?

    The main arguments you were rejecting before were that there is a benefit to signaling that Dems won’t fold without a fight, that there is no evidence that waiting will bring any benefit and that not fighting will have a cost in base enthusiasm.

    You and Doug, perhaps due to not being Democrats (notwithstanding your recent votes) and not being partisans in general, are approaching this from a removed (academic? intellectual?) perspective and discounting emotional and gut-level signaling as it isn’t the right way to approach you. But it is real, even if you can’t understand or appreciate it.

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  83. Andy says:

    I agree with the logic of this post. The gamble the Democrats appear to be taking is that the GoP might not actually have the votes to nuke the filibuster, particularly if the Democrats are willing to offer a few moderate Republicans a deal. That seems to be a long shot, but given the crazy politics of the last two years and the general chaos among Republicans, maybe it’s more likely than it first appears. Regardless, we’ll know by the end of the week.

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  84. @SKI:

    Is anyone actually arguing this?

    Yes. Look in the thread above. Here’s an example:

    One of the most successful strategies in the iterated form of The Prisoner’s Dilemma is called Tit for Tat. Basically, you do to the other guy whatever he just did to you. He treats you nice, you treat him nice. He fucks you over, you fuck him over. GOP screwed over Garland, Dems screw over Gorsuch. Game Theory says this is the Dems’ best move.

    Emphasis mine.

    are approaching this from a removed (academic? intellectual?) perspective

    Well, my job is the academic analysis of politics, so yeah.

    discounting emotional and gut-level signaling

    I both understand the emotional element and see how it could be useful. I have doubts about this particular moment and method for signalling, since it is ultimately going to be signalling how they can lose twice on this topic.

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  85. al-Alameda says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    are approaching this from a removed (academic? intellectual?) perspective
    …. Well, my job is the academic analysis of politics, so yeah.

    LOL!

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  86. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “At the moment they appear not to be able to make any deals with those Reps who might want to avoid going nuclear.”

    And under what circumstances would any Republicans make any deals in the future when they would not make them now? Seriously, how does this make even an iota of sense?

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  87. Pch101 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    There are establishment Republicans who would quietly prefer to have a cloture rule, so that they can hide behind Democrats when opposing legislative proposals that are coming from their right and because they realize that this could hurt them when they eventually cycle back to being the minority party in the Senate.

    Going nuclear could motivate other Republicans to push to end the filibuster altogether. Establishment Republicans might be forced to support such a move even if they privately oppose it so that they may avoid being accused of being RINOs.

    So instigating a nuclear scenario now could backfire on the Dems. And it probably doesn’t produce any upside, since the alternative to Gorsuch is likely to be someone else who is even worse.

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  88. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I am willing to admit an astounding amount of naivete to Senate procedural rules.

    So this begs the question: why are Republicans reluctant to pull the trigger on nuking the filibuster? Why are the Democrats FORCING them to do that, unless they think that (eventually) it will be to their advantage?

    Oh no! Democratic judges who will defend women’s healthcare! The Horror! The Horror!

    Republicans are running scared because they know Trump is toxic. So they’re running away from the Republican brand. This is part of it.

    Dr. Taylor has to support Gorsuch because he’s a Dean at Troy University in ‘Bama. We all know ‘Bama voters. HH and 1488 is par for the course. Hell, I could become chair of their Arts & Sciences if I proclaimed “Hitler waz right” and declared Jews and Blacks free game for STAND UR GROUND.

    Well, that, and maybe a boatload of cash too. Doesn’t matter if it’s Russian or Saudi…all the same.

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  89. Moosebreath says:

    @Pch101:

    Even granting your first paragraph, your second one does not follow. If there are Republicans who want to avoid doing away with the filibuster, but cannot vote against using the nuclear option in the case of the Gorsuch nomination, then for which Republican Supreme Court nomination are they going to vote against using it?

    And since I believe the only correct reading is that the answer is “none”, then what sort of deal can possibly be struck in exchange for not filibustering?

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  90. Lit3Bolt says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I’m sorry about that post. It’s needlessly antagonistic.

    My question is this: if the filibuster is nuked, is it nuked 4-EVER? Like really really? Really really really? Y’know, really really?

    Because if from that moment, simple majority rules? “Oh, let’s think why a Republican Congress and Unpopular Republican President are sad about this? Oh, what can it possibly be?”

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  91. DrDaveT says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    Under current circumstances, all the Democrats would need to do is force defections from three Republicans. That’s not impossible under the right circumstances

    For a Supreme Court nomination? Yes, it is. Really. There is no conceivable Trump nominee that a GOP Senator would fall on his sword for.

    and, in any case, if you can’t see that it would be smarter to fight this battle over a nominee that actually will have an impact on the future direction of the Court then there’s nothing more for me to say.

    Sorry, if you can’t see that nominating another Scalia has “an impact on the future direction of the Court”, then you’re too far gone for help. You’re committing the fallacy of sunk costs — the fact that Scalia was to the right of Genghis Khan and distorted a generation of decisions is NOT RELEVANT to the future composition of the Court, because he’s now dead. There is no presumption of appointing another Scalia; the baseline for new appointments is reset. Appointing Scalia again is not a neutral act; it’s an extremist act, just like appointing Scalia was.

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  92. @Lit3Bolt:

    Dr. Taylor has to support Gorsuch

    I would be more than happy for you to point out where I have supported Gorsuch.

    Feel free to quote me.

    I am willing to admit an astounding amount of naivete to Senate procedural rules.

    Perhaps this is the problem. Are you functioning under the impression that that is a scenario in which the nuclear option can be deployed and Gorsuch is not confirmed?

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  93. @Lit3Bolt:

    We all know ‘Bama voters. HH and 1488 is par for the course. Hell, I could become chair of their Arts & Sciences if I proclaimed “Hitler waz right” and declared Jews and Blacks free game for STAND UR GROUND.

    @Lit3Bolt:

    I’m sorry about that post. It’s needlessly antagonistic.

    You don’t say?

    Seriously, I don’t know where you are coming from here.

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  94. @Lit3Bolt: For the record: all I have tried to do here is provide an analysis of the politics of the situation in the context of the political and institutional parameters and constraints of the moment and I get this?

    I would say that you owe me more of an apology than simply “I’m sorry about that post. It’s needlessly antagonistic” as it goes well beyond that.

    I was tempted to erase the comment for violation of the site’s commenting policy, but I will leave it up for the community to see. Ironically, my initial impulse was to start to answer your post in good faith before I read down to your childish rant.

    And somewhat to my amusement this is the same thread in which I was accused of “approaching this from a removed (academic? intellectual?) perspective.”

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  95. restlessness says:

    @Tony W:

    On MSNBC tonight there was a lovely soft focus commercial for Mr Gorsuch. He seems like such a nice, competent man….

    Who is the audience for this piece of PAC? MSNBC leans liberal, but I suspect independents watch as well.

    If Gorsuch is filibustered the story may be, even for some on the left, that the Republicans were forced to ‘go nuclear’ to allow this excellent nominee to be seated, and that the Democratic resistance was just a petulant tantrum. And that simple story will feel correct, because of these commercials help set the stage.

    And each little nudge against the Democrats will be felt at election time – unmotivated voters and depressed turnout.

    Did the Russian election shenanigans show the GOP the way to their permanent majority?

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  96. Ig'nint in Daejeon says:

    @Doug Mataconis: In a sane world, yes your argument might carry some weight. In the one in which I’ve lived for the past 30 or so years, I’m not so sure.

    Personally, I take the “force the GOP to go nuclear” as the same sort of bet that the GOP made on Garland. Win 3 seats in 2018 and Trump needs to appoint a judge who Dems will vote for. Don’t win, you’re in the boat you are now. Don’t provoke the nuke kicks the can down the road.

    In for a dime, in for a dollar. Now’s as good a time as any.

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  97. Ig'nint in Daejeon says:

    @Tony W:

    Perhaps the Gorsuch nomination is part of the deal with Putin?

    And in another thread, someone was wondering if there are leftist equivalences to “BENGHAZI!!!!!!!!”…

    And, yes, I realize that you were being snarky, there are others, however…

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  98. Tony W says:

    @Ig’nint in Daejeon:

    you were being snarky

    Indeed.

    To your point – this is the sort of conspiracy that takes hold of huge swaths of AM Radio Republicans – and doesn’t get past the tiny tinfoil hat/mom’s basement liberals.

    Sure, both sides do it.

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  99. Pch101 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    It isn’t just about the Supreme Court.

    Do you really want the GOP to get a taste for eliminating the filibuster when it’s the only thing that can keep GOP legislation in check and provide the Dems with leverage in the legislature? Really?

    Liberals will not like ANY Supreme Court nominee that comes from Trump, so fighting over Gorsuch as if it will produce a better nominee is futile. There are reasons to drag out the nomination process and to make Republicans work for it, but the only way to get better nominees is to elect a Democratic president.

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  100. @Pch101:

    Liberals will not like ANY Supreme Court nominee that comes from Trump, so fighting over Gorsuch as if it will produce a better nominee is futile.

    Exactly.

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  101. Moosebreath says:

    @Pch101:

    “Do you really want the GOP to get a taste for eliminating the filibuster when it’s the only thing that can keep GOP legislation in check and provide the Dems with leverage in the legislature? Really?”

    Actually, yes. The filibuster has been used historically more against liberal legislation than conservative. If there had been no legislative filibuster, it is likely that there would have been a public option in the 2009 health care bill (and quite possibly the 1994 health care bill would have passed). As I said above @Moosebreath:

    “I believe (and I suspect most Democrats do as well) that removing the filibuster wherever and whenever is a good thing over the long haul. Having the Republicans’ fingerprints on removing it in this case makes it easier to claim in any future situation that neither side respects it when inconvenient.”

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  102. Pch101 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    Your timing sucks. If you are really intent on eliminating the filibuster and you are anywhere to the left of Attila the Hun, then you could not have chosen a worse time to do it.

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  103. Moosebreath says:

    @Pch101:

    “Your timing sucks.”

    Shrug, I have been in favor of removing the filibuster for everything for at least a decade.

    And let’s face it, the filibuster will be repealed whenever the party in power feels strongly enough about an issue to do it, unless the party out of power caves on everything all the time. The respect for Senatorial traditions just is not there anymore.

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  104. Pch101 says:

    @Moosebreath:

    And let’s face it, the filibuster will be repealed whenever the party in power feels strongly enough about an issue to do it

    The filibuster has been in place since the 19th century, so apparently not.

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  105. al-Alameda says:

    @Lit3Bolt:

    Dr. Taylor has to support Gorsuch because he’s a Dean at Troy University in ‘Bama. We all know ‘Bama voters. HH and 1488 is par for the course. Hell, I could become chair of their Arts & Sciences if I proclaimed “Hitler waz right” and declared Jews and Blacks free game for STAND UR GROUND.

    At least cite that, give it proper attribution.
    I read it in the Area 51 Breitbart Gazette.

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  106. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    The filibuster has been in place since the 19th century

    But for most of that time it was used only on occasion. (And even then, there were several 20th-century reforms that limited its application, such as those involving cloture and reconciliation.) Its use increased greatly in the 1990s and 2000s, and during Obama’s presidency it was brought to unprecedented heights. The Republicans filibustered or attempted to filibuster virtually everything Obama did, effectively turning the Senate into a chamber requiring a super-majority for anything to pass. That was the context in which the Dems eliminated the filibuster for executive branch and sub-SCOTUS judicial nominations in 2013. Once they did that, it was really only a matter of time before it was done away with for other purposes.

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  107. Gavrilo says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Question: Were you or were you not generally supportive when Harry Reid and the Democrats nuked the filibuster ahem, enacted “filibuster reform” back in 2013?

    So, when the Dems did away with the filibuster (for all nominations except the SCOTUS) you saw the merits of it, but now you think the Dems should hold their fire on the outside chance that the filibuster might be useful to them in the future.

    Got it!

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  108. al-Alameda says:

    @Gavrilo:

    So, when the Dems did away with the filibuster (for all nominations except the SCOTUS) you saw the merits of it, but now you think the Dems should hold their fire on the outside chance that the filibuster might be useful to them in the future.

    I’m not sure he saw the merits of it then, but I sure did – Republicans were blocking virtually all nominations and appointments to lower courts.
    But, all that bleating notwithstanding, please tell me how and why, with current Capitol Hill mathematics in play, the filibuster could be useful to Democrats in the event that Trump gets another opportunity to nominate someone to the Court?

    Would not Republican then get rid of the filibuster rule if need be? Of course they would. A party that shuts down the federal government twice in 5 years for no discernible reason other than a tantrum over the fact that Obama would not let them repeal ACA would do anything to get what it wants.

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  109. I’m sorry I missed most of this discussion. I basically have two big hobby horses these days: increase the size of the House dramatically and confine Supreme Court justices to a single, staggered eighteen-year term. Each presidential term two retire.

    Also, while I’m daydreaming here, if I could start from scratch there would be no Senate or Vice President. We have too many veto points in our system as it is.

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  110. Gavrilo says:

    @al-Alameda:

    But, all that bleating notwithstanding, please tell me how and why, with current Capitol Hill mathematics in play, the filibuster could be useful to Democrats in the event that Trump gets another opportunity to nominate someone to the Court?

    It’s not my argument. It’s Taylor’s. Read the thread. He explains it numerous times.

    I was just pointing out that when the Dems were getting of the filibuster, Taylor was for it. Now, he’s thinks it might be a potential valuable tool for them to employ against a future nominee. I guess that’s considered political analysis, if you’re a liberal Democrat analyzing what’s best for liberal Democrats.

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  111. Kylopod says:

    @Gavrilo:

    I guess that’s considered political analysis, if you’re a liberal Democrat analyzing what’s best for liberal Democrats.

    That’s kind of funny, because (a) Steven Taylor is neither a liberal nor a Democrat (b) Most of the liberal Democrats in this thread are in favor of filibustering Gorsuch, and provoking a nuke from the GOP.

    (For the record, I’m ambivalent about what the Dems are doing right now with the Gorsuch nomination. But I’ve long considered the filibuster a monstrosity and supported ending it even if doing so would hurt my own side temporarily. There’s no question the filibuster can be useful for either party when they are in the minority–that’s what’s kept it around for so long–but overall it has done more to cause dysfunction and halt progress in the United States than anything else.)

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  112. Ig'nint in Daejeon says:

    @Tony W: True. The scale doesn’t match at all. You have to go back 40-some years to see similar scale on the left, and even then, they didn’t manage to maintain the control and the destructive force that the wingnuts on the right have.

    Angela Davis in her prime was never Jason Chaffez.

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  113. al-Alameda says:

    @Gavrilo:

    I was just pointing out that when the Dems were getting of the filibuster, Taylor was for it. Now, he’s thinks it might be a potential valuable tool for them to employ against a future nominee. I guess that’s considered political analysis, if you’re a liberal Democrat analyzing what’s best for liberal Democrats.

    I’m not sure at all that Steven was for what Democrats did with the filibuster rule in 2013. I’m am however, quite sure that he understood completely exactly why Democrats killed the filibuster (except for nominees to the Court). You seem especially animated by Dr. Taylor’s comments on this and I’m not sure why?

    Two things are certain to me: (1) Republicans have the numbers to do as they please, and (2) Democrats have nothing to fear by letting McConnell kill the filibuster rule. And those two things are not mutually exclusive. The Senate makes its rules, they can write and rewrite them as they please, that will not change with final resolution of the Gorsuch nomination.

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  114. Joe Steel says:

    @Mr. Bluster: What’s your point? Changes are tough?

    Sure but they’re not impossible and they have to start somewhere. If the starting point is a view of a seemingly impossible future so what? It’s a way to draw-in a variety of perspectives and ideas.

    Here’s another idea.

    Take the choice of federal judges away from the politicians. Let the deans of select law schools choose candidates, discuss them and select the candidates they like best for the openings available.

    Sure. That would take a constitutional amendment and a lot of work to implement but it would be worth it. The system we have now is really, really bad.

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  115. Joe Steel says:

    Filibustering Gorsuch, by all predictions, will fail to stop his ultimate success. That may be but it will do something else. It will establish the Democrats’ moral and intellectual authority and that will be valuable in next year’s election.

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  116. Gavrilo says:

    @al-Alameda:

    If I was a Democrat, I’d support the filibuster now. Clearly, McConnell has the votes to kill it. Clearly, the GOP has decided to start playing hardball with SCOTUS nominations as they showed with Garland. Odds are, the next vacancy will be Ginsburg. If she holds on for 4 years and the next Pres is a Dem with a Dem senate, no filibuster is to the Dems advantage.

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  117. @Gavrilo:

    I was just pointing out that when the Dems were getting of the filibuster, Taylor was for it. Now, he’s thinks it might be a potential valuable tool for them to employ against a future nominee. I guess that’s considered political analysis, if you’re a liberal Democrat analyzing what’s best for liberal Democrats.

    If we are talking in the abstract, I am in favor of doing away with the filibuster.

    Speaking in terms of the tactics of the moment, I think that the Dems would be smart to hold off on triggering the nuclear option to preserve the possibility that it would be of some use to them later.

    I am wholly unclear, however, on how my view can be construed as being influenced by liberal Democratic thinking insofar as the vast majority of the liberals on this thread want the Dems to push the Reps to go nuclear.

    Hell, another guy on the thread literally accused me of being a Nazi and supporting Gorsuch full stop and you now you are telling me my analysis is driven by deep partisanship as a liberal democrat. Yet another commenter told me I was being too detached and academic and not getting the rage of the base. I have blogging for 14 years is this is quite a trifecta in terms of reactions to a fairly straight-forward political analysis.

    Seriously: I am sure I am not as clear as I could be, but I know I am not this unclear. My position is simple: the Reps have the vote to confirm Gorsuch by going nuclear. I am not sure how forcing the nuclear option helps Dems, so as an analyst it strikes me as an odd time to force the nuclear option.

    I am not even making an argument about my personal preferences here.

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  118. @al-Alameda:

    I’m not sure at all that Steven was for what Democrats did with the filibuster rule in 2013.

    I have been, generically, critical of the usage of the filibuster in the Senate by both parties–both for legislation and for nominations.

    Note: my position (which I don’t think Gavrilo gets) is that I am not suggesting a filibuster now (the only way to trigger the nuclear option is to filibuster).,

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  119. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    it strikes me as an odd time to force the nuclear option.

    It would seem that the liberals who post here are operating under the misguided assumption that a nuclear vote will fire up the Democratic base.

    They’re wrong. Now that it is a party based upon cultural values, the GOP has a base that cares about getting their justices on the Supreme Court. The Democrats are not nearly as passionate about this and therefore do not have that advantage.

    It benefits the Democrats to have a divided GOP, and forcing the nuclear option only helps to build Republican unity, i.e. drown out the establishment members of the Senate who would avoid going nuclear if they could avoid being labeled as RINOs for wishing to avoid it.

    The Democrats should be quietly supporting that for their own sake because it helps the Democratic party, not because of any love for the Republicans.

    Fighting is good, but this isn’t the way to do it.

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  120. al-Alameda says:

    @Gavrilo:

    If I was a Democrat, I’d support the filibuster now. Clearly, McConnell has the votes to kill it. Clearly, the GOP has decided to start playing hardball with SCOTUS nominations as they showed with Garland. Odds are, the next vacancy will be Ginsburg. If she holds on for 4 years and the next Pres is a Dem with a Dem senate, no filibuster is to the Dems advantage.

    I agree. I’m not especially interested in seeing if McConnell would kill the filibuster at some TBD later date. Get it done now,

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  121. Ig'nint in Daejeon (one more day only) says:

    @Pch101: I can only speak for me, but I’m not advocating that the goal is to fire up the base. I’m simply gambling that the Dems can swing 3 seats in a mid-term election with a remarkably unfavorable chief executive and majority Congress. You seem to believe that this isn’t the case. If you are correct, then you are also correct that this is the wrong cause to nuke the filibuster over.

    Place your bets ladies and gentlemen.

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  122. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: that proves way, way too much.

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  123. Turgid Jacobian says:

    Everything that needs said has been said, but I will offer this’: failure by the Dems to respond to their base strike me as a deeply bad idea–already hard enough to turn the base out in midterms. I don’t think filibustering will get them the electoral win, but failure may well destroy their chance for one.

    Additionally, my guess is that if they filibuster now it is gone and prez Trump gets 100% of his noms confirmed. If they filibuster later, it is gone, and prez Trump gets 100% of his nominees confirmed. This business about “oh, they might be careful to select a reasonable nominee the second go round” is nuts and completely disregard s the level of DGAF that Congressional leadership has displayed.

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  124. Moosebreath says:

    @Turgid Jacobian:

    “This business about “oh, they might be careful to select a reasonable nominee the second go round” is nuts and completely disregard s the level of DGAF that Congressional leadership has displayed.”

    This. A thousand times this.

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  125. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yet another commenter told me I was being too detached and academic and not getting the rage of the base.

    Please let me clarify. I didn’t say you weren’t getting the rage of the base. That is an inaccurate summation of my point. I was suggesting you weren’t getting the impact on the overall electorate of having a party be seen to not be fighting, to be weak, to be quitters. People can and do respect people that fought hard but lost. They don’t respect quitters.

    However rational a tactical retreat from a fight that can’t be won may be “smart” from a strategic perspective but not when it carries with it the cost of the baggage of having quit or not fought hard. And that cost doesn’t just appear in the base but the general electorate.

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  126. @SKI: I understand the basic point. I just think that you are putting more weight into what boils down to parliamentary procedure that most people don’t understand (indeed, I am not sure all the commenters in this thread understand it).

    I also understand the point of fighting. I question the wisdom of this fight because it is a loser. There is no path to victory here and at the end of the day of all the things that the Trump administration and the congressional GOP has been doing of late, the nomination of Gorsuch is the most normal thing that has happened since January 20th.

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  127. @Gavrilo:

    I was just pointing out that when the Dems were getting of the filibuster, Taylor was for it.

    BTW: if you look at all of the electrons I have spilled in this thread you will have a hard time finding me criticizing the Republicans at all (save, perhaps, over Garland, but even there I stated that they gambled and won). I certainly have not criticized the possibility nuclear option being deployed. I think they have every right to go that route should they choose (and, as noted, I am not going to mourn the diminution of the filibuster).

    The entire post and conversation has been about how a) the Reps are going to win this issue, and b) questioning of the Dems’ tactics.

    I sincerely do not understand what you think I am saying.

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  128. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:
    No arguments that most people don’t understand the minutiae – but they don’t have to understand to nonetheless incorporate into their perception the resulting headlines. And there will be headlines.

    Again, it doesn’t matter that there is no path to victory if you define victory as preventing Gorsuch from being seated. What matters is positioning for 2018 and 2020.

    It would also matter if, as you have suggested, that declining to filibuster Gorsuch would increase leverage on the next nomination but I don’t see that view as having any evidence in support. If the next nomination is flawed enough to get 3 GOP votes necessary to prevent the filibuster from being nuked, they will get the same 3 votes to prevent confirmation.

    Accordingly, from my vantage point, there is no cost to filibustering and there is a cost to not doing so (electoral politics).

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  129. @Turgid Jacobian: @Moosebreath:

    oh, they might be careful to select a reasonable nominee the second go round

    If that is directed at me, please note: I never said that or anything close to that.

    What I am saying is that the options at the moment are:

    1) Justice Gorsuch.

    or

    2) Justice Gorsuch via the nuclear option and no chance of a fight in the future if Trump gets another nominee.

    There is no win here for the Dems. There is no second nominee.

    From my POV, might as well preserve the slight chance of a successful fight in the future and avoid the nuclear option now. Why give something up and gain nothing?

    However, saying that I don’t think it is a disaster to go nuclear now and more on.

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  130. @SKI:

    And there will be headlines.

    Yep–and there are going to be about how the Democrats got nuked.

    If the next nomination is flawed enough to get 3 GOP votes necessary to prevent the filibuster from being nuked, they will get the same 3 votes to prevent confirmation.

    It depends on the nominee and the politics of the moment. Both are variables we do not know at the moment. There are some Reps who do not want to go nuclear and might not be willing to do so over a more controversial nominee.

    I fully understand the above is speculative. I just am arguing that better to preserve slight chances than give them away for nothing.

    The base is going to have plenty of reasons to be motivated in 2018 and 2020. Trump gives them reasons daily. The Gorsuch fight, much of which is typical anti-SCOTUS nominee boilerplate anyway, will be way down the list of the reason why people do (or do not) vote in those elections.

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  131. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “and no chance of a fight in the future if Trump gets another nominee.”

    The fight in the future is the second go round.

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  132. SKI says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Yep–and there are going to be about how the Democrats got nuked.

    Better that than they quit.
    I fully understand the above is speculative. I just am arguing that better to preserve slight chances than give them away for nothing.

    And I’m saying you keep ignoring that it isn’t for nothing. You keep ignoring the real, practical impact on actual voters – not just the base.

    And it doesn’t matter if they remember the specifics. The “taint” becomes part of emotional baggage. It is basic human behavior to label and forget the reason or rationality for the label. The past campaign is a perfect example: the specific ethical charges against HRC didn’t matter and certainly not the comparison between her and DT. What mattered was the emotional baggage of the headlines and the labeling.

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  133. @Moosebreath:

    The fight in the future is the second go round.

    Then why not preserve what little leverage one might have for that fight, since this one is lost.

    We know the outcome now.

    We do not know the future political context, makeup of the Senate, nor the nature of any future nominee.

    And I am not, by any mean, arguing that the next nominee will be more to the Dems’ liking.

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  134. @SKI:

    the real, practical impact on actual voters – not just the base.

    I find it highly unlikely that this vote will have a profound impact on non-base voters.

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  135. Pch101 says:

    Per the CNN exit polls, 56% of voters who said that Supreme Court appointments were “the most important factor” in their choice voted for Trump.

    Among those who said that they were “not a factor at all”, 55% voted for Clinton.

    Dems and Democratic-leaners are not nearly as fired up about this issue as are the Republicans. The nuclear aspects will move relatively few Dems, while a full-on brawl will make reluctant Trump voters feel better about their choice because the fight will remind them that Trump delivered what they will consider to be a positive result.

    It’s fine for Dems to grandstand and drag this out and I can’t fault individual Democrats for voting against Gorsuch on principle. But otherwise, this produces little and could backfire.

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  136. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    “Then why not preserve what little leverage one might have for that fight, since this one is lost.”

    Because there is no additional leverage in that fight*. If the Democrats filibuster then, their chances of having any Republicans support them in preventing the nuclear option (when flipping the court on Roe v. Wade is on the line) is no higher than it is now. Believing otherwise is fooling yourself.

    * I would suggest that their leverage in that fight is less, both because their base will be less energized if the Democrats don’t fight now, and because Republicans will say that the future nominee is no worse than Gorsuch, so if Gorsuch was not someone to filibuster, then the future nominee should not be either.

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  137. @Moosebreath:

    Because there is no additional leverage in that fight*

    You have no way to know that.

    1) You do not know who the next nominee will be.

    2) You do not know the R-D mix of the Senate when that nominee is named.

    3) You do not know the prevailing political climate when that nomination is made.

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  138. @Pch101: Indeed–all this talk about firing up the Dem base is ignoring the degree to which the vote (and the nuclear option’s deployment) could fire up Reps. This is the point of my point #1 in my original post.

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  139. Moosebreath says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    We both think the other is ignoring reality, so I am going to leave it here.

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  140. @Moosebreath: Perhaps. But you are telling me you know the future.

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  141. Kylopod says:

    @Pch101:

    Per the CNN exit polls, 56% of voters who said that Supreme Court appointments were “the most important factor” in their choice voted for Trump.

    I don’t find that the least bit surprising.

    The issue of SCOTUS nominations was one of the most oft-cited justifications that reluctant conservatives gave for supporting Trump. In contrast, the issue was only mentioned on occasion by Hillary supporters. Of course Dems bring it up in every modern election, especially with regard to the fate of Roe v. Wade (I remember Al Gore talking about it in 2000), but it wasn’t emphasized more than usual by Dems in 2016.

    In any case, one of the most dispiriting things I read was that polls suggest Dems largely like the Roberts Court, despite the fact that it’s by far the most conservative SCOTUS in decades, having given us Citizens United, Heller, Shelby County, and several other decisions that moved US policy in a sharply rightward direction.

    In a sense the Republicans who voted for Trump for this reason have it entirely correct: SCOTUS appointments are one of the most underrated issues in US presidential politics. A president serves only eight years at most, but justices serve for generations. Long after we’ve erased all memories of W.’s presidency, John Roberts will still be Chief Justice. He could be on the Court by 2040 or later, when people who were in high school when Obama was elected will be well into middle age. If Gorsuch retires from the Court at the same age as John Paul Stevens did, that’ll be the late 2050s!

    Republicans may not know how to legislate, but they sure are good at leaving their mark. On this matter, we could learn a thing or two from them.

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  142. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    My point is somewhat different, namely that a fight helps to increase support for Trump among the reluctant Trump voters who voted for him as the lesser of two evils, thus helping to heal the divide in the GOP coalition while indirectly empowering the base.

    But again, I am actually less concerned about than I am about the possibility of the filibuster being eliminated entirely, something that becomes more likely if that process begins with this.

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  143. @Pch101: i concur. Perhaps the base reference is too specific.

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  144. @Kylopod:

    1) I agree: SCOTUS is huge and very important.

    2) I would not, however, ascribe some great GOP maneuver here: Trumps’ ability to win WI, MI, and PA was the issue–and I am not sure that SCOTUS vacancies was the pivotal issue.

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  145. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    The Supreme Court may have helped to reduce the GOP defection rate.

    A lot of Republicans who voted for Trump did not like him; furthermore, many of them switched their votes to Trump within the last week prior to the election.

    The Court may have motivated a lot of those reluctant voters who had told pollsters that they were supporting Gary Johnson until they switched at the last minute.

    None of that necessarily explains what happened with the Rust Belt, but it does help to explain how Trump won more popular votes than anticipated.

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  146. @Pch101: I agree, especially with the first two observations.

    I bring up the WI, MI, and PA because that is how he won the presidency, so I would be cautious is allowing SCOTUS to over-explain the outcomes.

    And, I would note, I am not sure that Trump won more popular votes than anticipated. He won more electoral votes than anticipated.

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  147. Pch101 says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    Using the Real Clear Politics averages, the final national-level four-way polls had Clinton and Trump at 45.5% and 42.2% respectively, versus 48.2% and 46.1% for the actual result.

    So both of them added votes, but Trump added more. Gary Johnson lost 1.4% in the actual result as compared to the polling, while the decline to state/ other candidates/ undecideds fell from 5.3% to 1.4%.

    Combine that with the exit polling that shows last-minute switching and greater motivation among Trump voters to base their voting decision on the court, and it’s hard not to conclude that a lot of Trump voters were holding their noses and made their decision late in the game due to factors such as the court. A lot of the election result was due to key Democratic voting blocs not showing up, but maintaining the defection rate at manageable levels made it that much worse.

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  148. Kylopod says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I would not, however, ascribe some great GOP maneuver here: Trumps’ ability to win WI, MI, and PA was the issue–and I am not sure that SCOTUS vacancies was the pivotal issue.

    Those states were what put Trump over the top in the electoral college, but in order to get to the point of even considering those states, he first had to get almost his entire party behind him. Exit polls showed he won about 90% of the Republican vote. That’s slightly less than Romney, but by historical standards it’s quite high. (By contrast, only 74% of Democrats voted for Mondale in ’84, and many nominees in modern times–including Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Dole, Gore, and Kerry–got a smaller percentage of their party’s vote than Trump did.) And keep in mind that only a very meager drop in support from voters in his own party would have made all the difference: for example, a mere drop-off of 1% in the Republican vote in the crucial states of WI, MI, and PA would have cost him the election.

    The point isn’t that loads of voters based their vote on the SCOTUS issue. The point is that Republican elites, by and large, sent a strong signal that, for all Trump’s faults, he was at least acceptable. That was a message that was communicated overwhelmingly in the conservative media. And yes, the SCOTUS issue was definitely an important factor in the elites’ decision. It was mentioned by virtually every prominent conservative who wasn’t a hardcore Trumpkin as a crucial part of their decision. If the elites had abandoned their party’s nominee in droves, as was often speculated, he would never have gotten anything close to the 90% of the party vote–and (as I mentioned) he absolutely needed every inch of that 90% in order to win the election.

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  149. @Kylopod: I totally agree that SCOTUS was a major (dare I say, huge) motivator for Trump voters and certainly led to a lot of reluctant supporters to vote for him.

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  150. Turgid Jacobian says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: Steven, that wasn’t directed at you, but is a response to arguments I’ve seen and heard elsewhere. But, I still.think that based on what the majority did when it was the minority party and what they’ve pulled since they gained the majority… You’re arguments about the inclination of the majority to hew to reason a bit of hopeful projection, as are your argument to what tack they’d take if the composition changed. Moreover, consider the path they took to confirming manifestly creepy non ScOTUS noms that had ethical and documented reasons to worry about their ability to be truthful. You might say that they’d treat a nom to SCOTUS more seriously. To which I’d say “Garland.”

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  151. @Turgid Jacobian: Gotcha,

    To be clear: I do not expect the party leadership in the Senate to hew to a reasonable approach any time soon.

    My only thought about the future is whether some small number of Senators (e.,g Susan Collins, maybe McCain, etc). might be unwilling to go nuclear on some future candidate.

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  152. al-Alameda says:

    @Kylopod:

    In a sense the Republicans who voted for Trump for this reason have it entirely correct: SCOTUS appointments are one of the most underrated issues in US presidential politics. A president serves only eight years at most, but justices serve for generations. Long after we’ve erased all memories of W.’s presidency, John Roberts will still be Chief Justice. He could be on the Court by 2040 or later, when people who were in high school when Obama was elected will be well into middle age. If Gorsuch retires from the Court at the same age as John Paul Stevens did, that’ll be the late 2050s!

    To me, this (nominees to the Supreme Court) was by far the most important reason why Democrats needed to turnout to vote for Hillary Clinton, all other regular politics aside.

    I remember talking with a couple of neighbors back in June, before the Convention, these people were very strong Jill Stein supporters, and they asked how any liberal (specifically me) could vote for Hillary Clinton given her insufficiently strong commitment to liberal issues (unlike say, Sanders and Stein). I responded that I cared strongly and mainly about who makes the next set of nominations to the Supreme Court, and that voting for Stein was a boutique vote, one with no general appeal. They blew me off as a politics-as-usual sell-out Democrat … Yeah, well, I wonder if they’re happy with the new Trump Soviet?

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  153. Kylopod says:

    @al-Alameda:

    Yeah, well, I wonder if they’re happy with the new Trump Soviet?

    Some of them probably are. There has long been a segment of the left that actually prefers being out of power just so they can b!tch about sellout Dems. Indeed, I get the sense that giving them “lesser of two evils” arguments and accusing them of helping cause a Republican victory tends to invigorate them even more. I encountered the same attitude among Nader supporters in the 2000s. Stein supporters (some of whom are too young to remember Nader) are their spiritual successors.

    It isn’t true universally among these folks–some Naderites in 2000 later regretted their vote (including, apparently, Bill Maher and Michael Moore), and in 2016 some Stein voters almost certainly were victims to the same false complacency that afflicted so many other people, the belief that Trump was a sure loser and that Hillary had the election in the bag.

    Nevertheless, a lot of these lefties simply don’t care, or even enjoy the disruptive effect they have. The last thing that’ll sway them is pointing out to them the consequences of their spoiler votes. They know it, and they’re happy to play that role, because they think it’s the only power they have.

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