Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court seat, was finally confirmed on Friday after the Senate decided to use their “nuclear option.”
Democrats decided to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination if his confirmation reached the Senate floor, so the Republican majority leader, Mitch McConnell, vowed to change the confirmation rules and get rid of the option to filibuster any nomination to the Supreme Court.
Normally, a minority of senators can choose not to consent to hold an up or down vote for nominations and continue debating instead. Senate can then vote for cloture: a vote to decide whether or not to end a debate and decide the final vote. Senators can choose to abstain from voting and keep the topic open until it expired.
A minimum of 41 senators are needed to enact this filibuster rule, but after the “nuclear option” was invoked, this is no longer a choice they have when dealing with Supreme Court nominations.
This is not the first time the elimination of the filibuster rule took place in the Senate.
In 2013 the Democrat majority voted to enact the same option and eliminate the filibuster for most presidential nominations.
They had attributed the move to the fact that the Republican minority was uncooperative to almost every nomination by former President Obama.
However, Democrats had decided to leave the Supreme Court nomination process intact.
Chuck Schumer, Democratic minority leader, stated, “after careful deliberation, I have concluded that I cannot support Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court” on the senate floor on the final day of the confirmation hearing.
The choice to filibuster came out not long after Democrat’s outcry for the lack of opportunity given to Judge Merrick Garland, former President Obama’s nominee, by the Republican majority.
Many had seen his nomination to the Court as the conservative choice. They believed he served justly in a bipartisan manner during his time as a prosecutor for the U.S. Department of Justice and as a judge in the United States Court of Appeals.
With majority support from both Democrats and Republicans, Garland had been confirmed for the D.C. Circuit.
The White House, under former President Obama, released a statement on his qualifications for the nomination on their website. In January, the Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, commented on the mistreatment of Garland and the effects he expects the inaction would bring in the future for the senate.
Garland never got the chance to reach Senate floor, and after 293 days of waiting, his nominations expired.
The only perceivable explanation for Republicans to have ignored the nomination of Garland is that his nomination came from former President Obama.
Many called that move unjust, not only for President Obama, but also for Judge Garland and the American people as well.
So what does this nuclear option mean for future nominations to the Supreme Court?
In the future, nominees can be far more partisan and be confirmed with ease, despite any opposition that may arise from the other party.
On top of that, there are the concerns about how this affects the Senate as a whole.
The U.S. Senate has become less and less a united body of our government and more and more a battlefield where the two parties hash out their disagreements.
The majority tends to get their way, while the minority seems to lose more power with each change of rules.
Despite which party you side with, that should be a scary prospect, as this allows for unqualified nominations to more easily pass through.
There is also some fear that this trend of eliminating the filibuster option will make its way to legislation voting.
This would allow for more one-sided policies to vote through with little resistance possible. The majority party would hold more power, and the minority would have very few options when opposing a bill.
The fact that the majority party can just invoke such a rule without a legitimate cause is terrifying.
They were unhappy that their president’s nomination was being blocked.
Okay, but was this really worse than how Garland’s nomination was treated by Republicans? It’s hard to imagine why they would not have made the same choice to filibuster, had the tables been turned.
The same could be said about many of the recent actions Republicans have taken.
They cite what Democrats have done in the past, but often fail to take into consideration the context in which those choices were made. Not to say that the Democratic Party hasn’t made some hasty decisions of their own.
There seems to be a “take it while we can” mentality in the Republican Party lately, but these changes have lasting consequences that will affect the government in the future, long after President Trump has left office.
The possibility of the government being run by a single party has become more plausible. This opens up the possibility for one-sided politic likely to stray from moderation and compromise.
The lack of opportunity for the minority to speak and act is concerning. Tensions within the government are building, and systems in place no longer seem to be working.
How can the American people trust a government that is at war with itself? How can we believe they will listen to the people when they are not even listening to each other?