Editorial: ‘A body blow’ to the Senate
Senate Democrats will oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court for many good reasons. And if Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is to be believed, he will employ the “nuclear option,” perhaps forever changing the rules of the Senate to approve Gorsuch’s nomination by a simple majority vote. The Republican Party will then have successfully denied President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court in an affront to Senate rules and tradition, while also changing Senate rules to put Trump’s first nominee onto the Court.
To those who say it’s no big deal and is a “good thing” to employ the “nuclear option,” as McConnell maintains, Republican Sen. John McCain had this response: “Idiot, whoever says that is a stupid idiot, who has not been here and seen what I’ve been through and how we were able to avoid that on several occasions.” McCain made the remark Wednesday, recalling past efforts to defuse these judicial confirmation wars. He added, in a pointed reference to McConnell and others championing the same myth (from his own party) that it will be good for the Senate: “And they are stupid and they’ve deceived their voters because they are so stupid.”
What does Sen. McCain know that McConnell and other Republicans won’t admit? He knows that it spells the end of the filibuster in all of its forms, including on legislation, and that it will destroy the Senate’s tradition of bipartisan deliberation.
“This is a body blow to the institution, and I think we’re on a slippery slope,” McCain told the Washington Post.
Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, agreed with his fellow Republican. “Everybody says: ‘Oh, we are never going to do it on legislation.’ Come on,” Corker said in the Post’sstory, adding that the pressure from the respective party bases will become too much. “Give me a break. Somebody is not living in reality.”
Americans should note that what prompted this significant change in the nation’s political discourse and function has been the extremism of today’s Republican Party. It started most recently with Republicans filibustering almost all of President Obama’s appointees to his administration, not because of their qualifications or conflicts of interests or any valid concern, but simply to slow down his agenda. That prompted Senate Democrats to employ the “nuclear option” for Obama’s appointments during the first two years of Obama’s presidency. Since then, the partisanship has escalated dramatically.
To think that this further blow to the institution will be “good” is to live in a world of falsehoods, afraid to speak the truth of the harm that is being done by their own actions. It will be McConnell’s legacy, much as Sen. Joseph McCarthy is a footnote in the history of those troubled times.
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