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Don't filibuster Gorsuch Supreme Court vote

Democratic Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York should abandon his push to filibuster the nomination of Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch, both because it is not justified and because it would not succeed.

Nothing revealed during Gorsuch’s 20 hours of testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee and nothing that has been presented about his judicial background would suggest he is unprepared or unfit to take a seat on the high court. In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Gorsuch to the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.

The best that Schumer and other filibuster advocates can come up with is that Gorsuch’s judicial record suggests a “deep-seated conservative ideology.” While conservative in his views on state’s rights and adherence of the original intent of the Constitution, in the mold of the man he would replace, the late Justice Antonin Scalia, there is nothing in the record suggesting Gorsuch is an extremist.

Did Schumer expect a Republican president working with a Republican Senate to select a nominee with centrist views?

A filibuster would force the nomination to earn a 60-vote number or fail. Republicans control 52 Senate seats. Yet enough Democrats could defect to get to 60, which would be an embarrassing outcome for the minority leader. Democratic senators from states where Trump did well will not be eager to fall on their swords to try to block the Gorsuch appointment. They know seating Gorsuch does not change the ideological breakdown of the high court; a conservative jurist will fill the vacancy created by the death of a conservative justice.

Even if Schumer held together at least 41 Democrats to sustain a filibuster, the Republican Senate leadership could well move to change the rules and require a simple majority for confirmation. The better choice is not to force the issue in this case and keep the filibuster in play for future nominations in which one party or the other is pushing a candidate unfit for a seat on the court.

As noted before, Gorsuch’s legal rulings often have not lined up with the editorial positions of this newspaper, but the choice was Trump’s to make. He won.

What this filibuster mongering appears to be really about is bad feelings over the refusal by Republicans last year to act on President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia, Judge Merrick Garland, who was also well qualified and more centrist than Gorsuch in his decisions.

The cynical calculation by the GOP to hold the seat open until the presidential election has kept the Supreme Court with only eight justices for over a year. It is not hyperbole to call the seat stolen. Yet the response should not be to block Gorsuch and extend the vacancy.

Democrats should put their focus on recapturing the Senate in the 2018 election and place the party in a better position to influence the filling of future vacancies and perhaps to block any appointment until the 2020 presidential election, following the precedent set by the Republican leadership in Washington.

For now, Schumer should get out of the way and allow a simple majority vote to confirm Gorsuch.

The Day editorial board meets regularly with political, business and community leaders and convenes weekly to formulate editorial viewpoints. It is composed of President and Publisher Tim Dwyer, Editorial Page Editor Paul Choiniere, Managing Editor Izaskun E. Larrañeta, staff writer Erica Moser and retired deputy managing editor Lisa McGinley. However, only the publisher and editorial page editor are responsible for developing the editorial opinions. The board operates independently from the Day newsroom.


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