It will be interesting to see what Democrats in the U.S. Senate do regarding the confirmation of President Trump’s nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
If the recent historical trend holds true, Democrats will jump up and down a bit, and the well-qualified judge will eventually get some level of bi-partisan support.
In a few cases in recent history, presidents have hit some bumps in the road after making a nomination to the high court.
In 2005, George W. Bush was faced with filling two seats on the high court. Justice Sandra Day O’Connor had announced her retirement. John Roberts was set to replace her when Chief Justice William Renquist died. Bush elevated Roberts to his nominee for Renquist’s seat on the court.
Then he announced Harriet Miers as his nominee for O’Connor’s slot, and the world asked, “Who is Harriet Miers?”
I like George W. Bush, but the momentary lapse in brain function is unacceptable. Somehow he had thought the Supreme Court was the place for an individual to learn how to be a judge.
Eventually, the nomination was withdrawn as Bush’s own party shouted and screamed about her lack of qualifications and a record on which they could base a confirmation.
In the end, Bush put forth a well-qualified nominee who was confirmed in Samuel Alito.
There’s one instance of a SCOTUS nominee failing to make it to the bench of the nation’s highest court. However, the situation is hardly applicable to the decision Democrats face with Gorsuch. He is qualified.
So Democarts must look further into history. We all remember Robert Bork? Right?
OK. I don’t. I was in diapers when President Ronald Reagan nominated the qualified Bork to the Supreme Court in 1987. Democrats held the Senate, and they mobilized against Bork and his conservative record.
He never made it to the full Senate. Instead, Democrats no-go’d him in the Judiciary Committee. It was an act which has been considered blatantly political in nature.
Reagan’s next pick for the seat, Douglas Ginsburg, admitted to smoking a little reefer and withdrew himself from consideration. Thus, we ended up with Justice Anthony Kennedy, who has been considered the court’s swing vote.
There’s a long line of rejected nominations to the court. However, it seems, with the exception of a few hiccups, the most recent administrations have actually fared quite well.
Richard Nixon, Lyndon Johnson, Dwight Eisenhower, Herbert Hoover, Warren Harding, Grover Cleveland, Chester Arthur, Rutherford Hayes, Ulysses Grant, Andrew Johnson, James Buchanon, Millard Fillmore, James Polk, John Tyler, Andrew Jackson, John Quincey Adams, James Madison and John Adams all saw Supreme Court picks go unconfirmed by the Senate.
Even George Washington saw chief justice nominee John Rutledge turned down by the Senate in 1795.
Let’s move back to the most recent instances though. Of the three, only one unsuccessful nomination was overtly political. Wait. I meant four.
I guess history has already wiped the slate clean for the GOP after the party’s new standard-bearer has taken office. I haven’t heard much about Merrick Garland.
The U.S. Senate’s failure to act on Garland’s appointment is the greatest injustice of all these recent failed nominees. Republicans in the Senate didn’t even have the guts to Bork Garland.
Garland was appointed to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in March of 2016. His nomination remained before the Senate longer than any other in history.
The man was well qualified for the job, so Republicans just didn’t act. They stubbornly sat on their hands. Garland deserved at least a hearing. They should have at least Borked the man.
Instead, they gave a line of bull fecal matter, claiming, for all intents and purposes, the president of the United States wasn’t the president of the United States anymore since he would leave office in nine months or so. That’s hogwash, but they didn’t care.
Gorsuch won’t change the balance of the court. It will remain 4-4 with Kennedy as the swing vote, but that shouldn’t stop Democrats from digging their heels in.
The fact is history says one needn’t any excuse to oppose a judicial nominee, and when Senate Republicans gave Garland the treatment he received, they opened the door for opposition to the genital-grabbing clown’s court picks.
It’s time for Democrats to head to the trenches and filibuster. They needn’t an excuse to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination. They didn’t have one in 1987, and Republicans didn’t have one in 2016 and 2017.
Thus, they ought to draw their line in the sand. They also had better hope Justices Ginsburg and Kennedy remain in their seats until the Democrats can at least regain the Senate, for a Trump appointee to one of those seats truly would have an impact on the court.
Andy is a staff writer and may be reached at 415-4698.