…Or not to block

Democrats should not obstruct Gorsuch

Illustrator: Nora Peterson

Illustrator: Nora Peterson

Democrats have vowed to go to war over President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. It is unlikely that the conservative judge will get even a single vote from any of the Senate Democrats.

This brings up the debate of whether or not the Democrats will block the nomination with a filibuster, which requires 60 votes to break. The Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate. A filibuster could cost Democrats dearly if Republicans decide to use their “nuclear option,” which would get rid of the filibuster entirely for Supreme Court nominees, making it so that the confirmation would require only a simple majority, much like with cabinet appointments.

It would be smarter for the Democrats to save their political clout for when any of the court’s three eldest justices—Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, and Stephen Breyer—might retire. If any of those justices were to leave, that would change the balance of power on the court for decades to come. Gorsuch is only replacing a conservative judge and bringing the power of the court to what it was before Justice Scalia’s death.

The level of toxicity and anger among establishment Democrats is at an all-time high. We have seen many cabinet nominees who seemed very easy to confirm have large numbers of Democratic senators peel back with each vote. If establishment Democrats, like Sen. Chuck Schumer, flip from their willingness to confirm other qualified Trump appointees, this can empower more liberal Democrats to primary against the establishment, much like how the Tea Party changed the landscape of the Republican party by sticking more to their partisan identities.

The decision to block Gorsuch would also hurt the Democrats’ chances of retaking the majority in the 2018 midterm elections. Democrats have to defend 25 seats, while the Republicans only have to defend eight. Ten of the states that the Democrats will have to defend are states that Trump won in 2016.

This puts the Democrats in a very rough spot, by the time the midterms roll around, the Democrats could end up losing more seats, making it so they have even less power in the Senate.

Blocking Gorush only hurts the Democrats in the long run. All obstruction does is thwart their chances to retake the majority in 2018 and use their political clout when the power of the Supreme Court might shift.