Democrats ought to obstruct Trump’s Supreme Court Nominee
Every political decision must balance agenda, precedence, and career. A politician who does not push an agenda serves no purpose. One who ignores precedence risks corrupting the foundations of government. And one who makes no attempt to maintain or further a career ceases to have one. The best balance for Democrats to reach would be to obstruct the appointment of Neil Gorsuch as the ninth Supreme Court Justice.
The appointment of Neil Gorsuch would work against the Democratic agenda. Gorsuch is a conservative originalist in line with the late Antonin Scalia. With a deadlocked Supreme Court, the appointment of Gorsuch would lean the judiciary conservative. Such a result would give Republicans complete control of all three major branches of government, annihilating any possibility of Democrats pushing their agenda for this election cycle.
The appointment of Neil Gorsuch would work against precedence. The country has a gone a year without a ninth justice because Republicans refused to give even a hearing to the Obama-nominated Merrick Garland. Such a move is unheard of and unfounded, and to allow it to work by appointing a justice with major conservative leanings would encourage future deviations from precedence.
There is little short-term career damage and more long-term career benefit from obstructing the appointment of Neil Gorsuch. Democratic senators in Republican-held states that face re-election in 2018 are most vulnerable to career damage from the move. The hope for those Democrats would be for anti-Trump sentiment to continue to rise among conservatives. The other Democrats in the Senate would ride on the respect that comes from holding firm.
When considering the position of Democrats, the short-term benefits outweigh the short-term damages, and the long-term is greatly beneficial to obstructing the appointment of Gorsuch. Long-term consequences must be considered in this case due to how long justices serve. To obstruct, Democrats could band together and filibuster the appointment. The only recourse for Republicans would be to pick a more moderate nominee, or to vote away the possibility of filibustering a Supreme Court nominee, an act that would sway public opinion against Republicans. Either way, Democrats benefit.