Gorsuch’s confirmation worth the fight
After the tragic passing of Justice Antonin Scalia last year, I promised that the Supreme Court vacancy would not be filled in the middle of a hotly contested presidential election. The American people needed to have a voice in the consideration of Justice Scalia’s successor.
On Friday, we saw the long-awaited results of that commitment. Kentuckians spoke when they helped elect President Trump, and the U.S. Senate listened when it confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch.
Even when many thought that Hillary Clinton would win the election, I stood by my commitment to consider the next president’s nominee regardless of who won. I was going to work with the next president, whomever the voters chose that person to be, to process whomever he or she nominated. So we declined to fill the seat until after the election — not the most popular decision at the time — but this issue was too important to rush through a nominee after voters had already begun casting their ballots for the next president.
Last November, the voters selected Donald Trump to be our president and to appoint the next justice to the Supreme Court.
The confirmation process for Judge Gorsuch wasn’t easy, despite the fact that not a single Democrat opposed him when he was confirmed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — including Senators Leahy and Schumer, as well as then-Senators Obama, Clinton, and Biden. This time, Senate Democrats not only tried to tarnish him with the same tired attacks they level at nearly every nominee of a Republican president, but also tried to invent special new hurdles for him to surmount.
None of it worked. Time and again, fact-checkers rebuked Senate Democrats when they argued there was some mythical 60-vote, super-majority “standard” for Supreme Court nominees. In his hearings, Judge Gorsuch proved himself to be thoughtful, even-tempered, and full of integrity. The American Bar Association – a group leading Senate Democrats have called the “gold standard” in evaluating judicial nominations – awarded him its highest rating, “unanimously well-qualified.” And across the nation, Judge Gorsuch won the support of conservatives, liberals, and centrists alike.
Unfortunately, most Senate Democrats ignored the voice of the American people. They descended to a new low and launched the first successful, partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in American history. In doing so, they disregarded more than 200 years of Senate tradition and risked damaging the institution for years to come.
Senate Democrats didn’t really attempt this unprecedented filibuster because of Judge Gorsuch’s credentials, his abilities, or his temperament. They opposed him because of the president who nominated him. They bowed to those on the far-left who demanded blind resistance.
Filibusters of Supreme Court nominees aren’t just rare – they’re practically unheard of. In the entire history of the Senate, there has only been one successful filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. In 1968 – interestingly, in the middle of a presidential election year – a bipartisan filibuster stopped the confirmation of Abe Fortas. However, that effort was nothing like the purely partisan filibuster by Senate Democrats this week.
No one in the current Senate Republican Conference has ever voted to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. Democrats own this obstruction, and they are responsible for the results.
Despite the left’s attack on the Senate’s collegial traditions, I intended to keep my commitment to the American people and confirm Judge Gorsuch. We made sure the Senate continued its tradition of up-or-down votes on Supreme Court nominees.
I care deeply about the Senate as an institution. All members should respect its rules and precedents. That’s why I was disappointed when Senate Democrats chose to take us down this course. However, the fight over Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation was a fight worth having. He is an extremely qualified jurist who is a worthy successor to Justice Scalia. He will make an incredible addition to the Supreme Court. Last November the country selected a new President. Many in Kentucky wanted President Trump to make this nomination, and they wanted the Senate to confirm that individual. I am proud to say that the Republican-led Senate did just that.
By: Sen. Mitch McConnell
Source: Louisville Courier-Journal
Related Issues: Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations, Senate Democrats