Unless you are a political junkie, the confirmation process for the Supreme Court is not exactly must-see TV, but the results will shape the courts for decades. Over the next two to three weeks, Judge Neil Gorsuch will field questions from both sides with most of the intensity predictably coming from the left. The good news is the left isn’t likely to find many arrows to sling.
Gorsuch appears to be devoid of the proverbial skeleton in the closet that Democrats hope to find, making his confirmation a near certainty — knock on wood. That said, there are several scenarios that could play out of the next several weeks. Here are the five most likely:
1| Democrats Roll Over
It only takes a simple majority for confirmation, meaning Gorsuch only needs 51 votes. Republicans own the majority of seats in the Senate with 52 and none are likely to vote “no.” If a few Democrat votes are swayed his way, Gorsuch could be confirmed with a supermajority of 60 votes, making it impossible for Democrats to filibuster.
2| The Nuclear Option
Thanks to Harry Reid reinstating the parliamentary rule of the nuclear option in 2013, Republicans are able to invoke that rule and bypass the 60 vote threshold. If Republicans choose to implement the nuclear option, only a simple majority is needed and Gorsuch would be confirmed. Utilizing this option would almost certainly make for an all out war for the next nomination which could happen as early as this year.
3| The Two-Speech Rule
A Senate rule mandates the Senate stay in the same legislative day until filibustering senators give up on their efforts. This is essentially a way to tire out the filibuster and exhaust the objecting minority to run out the clock. Confirmation would only require the simple majority of 51 votes this way.
While highly unlikely, this would occur if, for whatever reason, President Trump withdraws the nomination. Whether he’s expending too much political capital or some scandal were to explode, Trump could just punt on Gorsuch and go back to the drawing board.
5| Democrats Actually Like Gorsuch
It’s no as farfetched as it might sound. Gorsuch is a very reasonable judge who was confirmed unanimously 10 years ago to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. If Republicans and Gorsuch sway a handful of Democrats, he could easily push through with a supermajority.
From most reports, there’s not much to object to when it comes to Judge Gorsuch — even for Democrats. Don’t get too excited just yet, though. Democrats will have to play the part of taking a stand and cast a few votes against him.
Don’t expect Trump to punt, he hasn’t seemed too concerned with a little opposition. When he chooses his guy, he tends to stand by him. Invoking the nuclear option isn’t likely either, as it could have serious ramifications no one wants to deal with this early on in an administration.
Watch for enough Democrats to cave for a supermajority. Republicans have the upper hand and Democrats know it. Judge Gorsuch is a conservative’s dream, but he’s not really a liberal’s worst nightmare either. As it stands now, we can look forward to hearing the name Justice Gorsuch for decades to come.
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