A reality based independent journal of observation & analysis, serving the Flathead Valley & Montana since 2006. © James Conner.

1 February 2017

Democrats lost the Gorsuch confirmation vote on 8 November 2016

Unless Neil Gorsuch gets caught doing something unthinkably degenerate and evil — buggering pigs on the White House’s front law at high noon while spying for Iran might qualify — he’ll be confirmed as the next justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. Whether there will be sufficient votes to confirm him was decided on 8 November 2016.

Given how and why former President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court was torpedoed by Mitch McConnell’s Republicans, no Democrat should vote to confirm Gorsuch, but there’s no point filibustering the nomination. Trump is President. He has the votes. He will prevail.

Will Democratic senators in red states who are up for re-election in 2018 vote for Gorsuch to pander to Republican voters? It’s a good bet that some will, thereby allowing Trump to claim that Gorsuch was confirmed with bipartisan support.

And it’s likely Trump will have at least one more opportunity to appoint a justice to the Supreme Court. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a frail but determined cancer survivor, celebrates her 84th birthday in March. She should have retired in 2013, when Obama had the votes to confirm a replacement, but she was too selfish and stubborn to subordinate her ambition and pride to the needs of the nation. She was holding out for President Hillary Clinton. Now she must survive another four years, hoping that Trump is a one-term President.

Will she last that long? Possibly. Will a Democrat replace Trump in 2021? Possibly. But those happy outcomes are not good bets.

Even if Ginsburg outlasts Trump, either Stephen Breyer, 79 in August, or Anthony Kennedy, 81 in July, or both, might not. By the end of Trump’s first term, there could be only two liberal justices, Sotomayer and Kagan, on the court. Unless Democrats win back the Senate in 2018, possible but unlikely, there’s nothing they can do to prevent this other than urging Ginsberg, Breyer, and Kennedy, to eat their vegetables, get their flu shots, and not step into empty elevator shafts.

Thank you, Hillary Clinton.