01.06.2017 1

Editorial: End the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees

The attacks on Senator Jeff Sessions as he seeks to be confirmed as the nation’s Attorney General represent everything that is bad in politics.

Every Senator knows Senator Sessions.  They know that he is one of the finest gentlemen ever to grace the halls of the Senate.  They know that Senator Sessions is independent and tough, willing to stand up for what he believes is right.  They know that Senator Sessions has the intellect and courage to both understand and uphold the rule of law.

Yet, Democrat Senators who know the quality and the integrity of the man are allowing him to be pilloried by those whose only interest is to maintain the attitude of lawlessness that pervades the Obama Justice Department.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should learn a big lesson on the treatment of Sessions by his Democratic colleagues — that power and control are their only drivers.

The old idea of comity is gone.  When Senators who have personal relationships with the nominee don’t publicly disabuse the media and others on the scurrilous attacks on one of their colleagues, then it is time for the GOP to update their playbook.

Already, new Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has declared to Rachel Maddow that he will block any Supreme Court nominee sent forward by soon to be President Trump saying, “It’s hard for me to imagine a nominee that Donald Trump would choose that would get Republican support that we could support.”

While some could chalk up the Schumer talk as nothing more than bluster for his George Soros funded base, he should be taken seriously.  Senate Democrats cannot block Jeff Sessions from becoming Attorney General without at least three Republican Senator votes because of a decision by the Democrats when they were in the majority to eliminate the 60-vote confirmation threshold for Cabinet officials and all federal judges below the Supreme Court.  This ensures that Trump nominees, like Jeff Sessions, don’t need a single vote from a Democrat to be confirmed and can actually lose the votes of two Republican Senators and still be confirmed with the vote of the Vice President, who has the power to break ties.

However, the situation gets even more dire when considering a Supreme Court appointment, where the Republicans would need to garner eight Democrat votes in the Senate for confirmation.  Schumer’s promise to Rachel Maddow makes this a virtual impossibility.

It is important to remember that Chuck Schumer has been one of the most ardent opponents of the Second Amendment for his entire Congressional career, and one of his demands would be that any nominee not support the Heller decision which ended the argument over whether the individual right to keep and bear arms exists.  Donald Trump won, at least partially, because he promised a Supreme Court that would reflect the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s view on gun rights as well as other Constitutional issues.

There simply is no middle ground on the gun issue or many others facing the Supreme Court, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell should take Schumer at his word and take the necessary steps to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees before anyone is chosen by Trump.  This way it is not about an individual nominee but about whether any nominee would be confirmed, taking away any moral ground that Schumer might attempt to secure.

In the end, the GOP has been given everything they asked for: the White House, the Senate and the House of Representatives.  The Supreme Court make up and the legal direction the country should take is largely the reason for winning the White House and retaining the Senate.  Now, it is up to Senator Mitch McConnell to take the needed steps now to be faithful to the generational opportunity to set the direction of the Court for the next twenty years that has been handed to him.  It would be political malpractice if he allowed Chuck Schumer to dictate these terms due to filibuster rules that the Democrats cast aside when it suited them.

If McConnell is paying attention, it should be the very anger and outright character assassination against Senator Sessions in his Attorney General nomination confirmation that should affirm the need to end the filibuster for the Supreme Court.  If the Democrat Senators who know the character of the man, and would have to sit with him if he were denied the Attorney General position are willing to engage in this type of attack, imagine the onslaught for anyone outside of the Senate club seeking to be on the Supreme Court.

It’s time to take the Democrats at their word and for the Senate Republican majority end the filibuster now.  As President Obama once reminded each of us, elections have consequences.

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