The New York Times reports that the Democrats “appear poised” to filibuster Trump’s Supreme Court pick: they have secured the needed 41st vote.
I’ll confess to being very slightly surprised. Neil Gorsuch would replace Antonin Scalia, simply returning the Supreme Court to its previous liberal/conservative balance, and he’s undeniably qualified. The Democrats might have gained more public sympathy if they had let this one go—and then filibustered in the event that Trump got another pick, one that could fundamentally alter the Court.
They also might have gained some GOP sympathy, considering that some Republicans have voiced a reluctance to exercise the “nuclear option” and end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. But this provocation, coupled with the fact that the Democrats themselves eliminated the filibuster for non-Supreme Court nominees just a few years ago, could very well make that reluctance evaporate.
Unless the GOP wimps out—and never say never—this will mean it’s smooth sailing for Trump’s future nominations, and also of course for future presidents.
Robert VerBruggen is managing editor of The American Conservative.