Last night, Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch, his nominee for the Supreme Court in prime time, with all the flair of a reality show impresario. And this time, as Dahlia Lithwick notes – it wasn’t a mere distraction:
The atrocity you witnessed Tuesday night—the president of the United States setting it up to appear as though he was summoning in two esteemed jurists for a Bachelor-style rose ceremony in prime time—isn’t just another shiny object meant to distract you from Steve Bannon, or from the Muslim high-schooler who has been detained for three days, or from the repeated instructions from Sean Spicer that anyone who doesn’t show perfect loyalty to the president should get out of government. The grotesque power move of embarrassing two judges with a showy prime-time bake-off (“I’m not here to make friends”) isn’t just a distraction from President Trump’s contemptuous dismissal of the law, the judicial branch, and the Constitution. It’s a capstone to a yearlong campaign to show dominance over them.
Because the filibuster still exists for Supreme Court nominees, Gorsuch will need to cross a 60-vote threshhold to be confirmed – and Mitch McConnell, who is the very definition of chutzpah, had the nerve to advise Democrats –angry about a SCOTUS seat that was stolen– that he expected them to give the nominee “fair consideration and respect the result of the recent election with an up-or-down vote on his nomination, just like the Senate treated the four first-term nominees of Presidents Clinton and Obama.” (Just not the final nominee, Merrick Garland, who McConnell and the Senate Republicans refused even the courtesy of a hearing.)
Democrats React to Gorsuch
Many Democrats have indicated that they plan to give Gorsuch the exact same consideration the Republicans gave to Garland – which has McConnell threatening to invoke the “nuclear option” of getting rid of the filibuster entirely, so Supreme Court justices can be confirmed with a simple majority.
He may follow through on it, too. After Democrats boycotted the Senate Finance Committee hearings for a second day on Cabinet nominees Steve Mnuchin and Tom Price, the GOP members suspended the rule that states at least one Democrat must be present and voted to advance his nomination anyway.
As for Gorsuch, there’s a pretty good profile of him in today’s Guardian:
“In Hobby Lobby Stores Inc v Sebelius, Gorsuch argued that a retail store owner need not comply with a provision in Barack Obama’s health care law requiring employers to provide health insurance covering oral contraceptives. In his opinion Gorsuch gave wide berth to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which asserts the religious liberty claim and which Gorsuch called a “super-statute”.