4/5/17

I’ve written a few times recently about the subject of the filibuster/cloture procedure in the Senate.

I am waiting with bated breath for tomorrow, Thursday, April 6th, to see if I can add a notch, a partial one at least, to my “I-Told-You-So” streak.

In the meantime, here is my prediction 24 hours before the crucial test for this long standing senate institution: I think that the Democrats will climb off the tree at the very last minute. I do not think that they will invoke cloture. I think that they will allow the nomination of associate justice Gorsuch to go through.

I also doubt deeply if Republicans have the votes to change the rules if Democrats do not get off and, indeed, do invoke cloture; but, according to my thinking we will never know.

Game of chickens.

Life is interesting.

Update: 4/8/17
The “winning streak” of the “I-Told-You-So” had to come to an end and I am very grateful that I was WRONG—100% wrong—above. Democrats did filibuster and Republicans did change the rules. I am very happy with this outcome, but I admit to be bewildered.

Why would Democrats waste the little, very little, ammunition that they had to stop the likely forthcoming earthquake in the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) on what turned out to be a losing proposition? Maybe they, like me, thought that Republicans lacked the courage, but that was a huge gamble and one with zero logic.

It is very likely that before January 2019 there will be one more SCOTUS nomination, but it is close to certain that before January 2021 there will be one or even two more.

Given the math in the Senate (24 Democrats Senators are up for reelection in 2018, but only 9 Republicans), it is also near certain that Republicans will maintain the majority in the Senate and with Trump still in the White House the nominee to SCOTUS will be a conservative.

There are four sitting justices that are likely candidates to call it quits in the next 2-3 years:

  • Clarence Thomas: Age 68, “spring chicken” in SCOTUS justices terms but there have been rumors that he is considering a resignation. This will not cause a change in the balance of power on the Court as he is the most conservative judge ever.
  • Anthony Kennedy: Going on 81 years old. Replacing him will be a 5 level earthquake on the SCOTUS Richter scale. Kennedy is considered conservative but with liberal leanings on many issues. The “swing vote.”
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: 84 years old and Stephen Breyer – 79 years old. A need to replace either of those two will be a 9.9 level earthquake on the Richter scale. It will be Armageddon for liberals/Democrats.

Any of the above “earthquake” type events could reshape the SCOTUS for a generation to come, given the generally young age of all the remaining justices. It could ensure a US that lives by the Constitution and the law as opposed to by social trends; an anathema to liberals and progressives.

The ONLY way that Democrats could maybe have stopped such a likely outcome was to use the filibuster then. So, say Trump proposes a conservative nominee to replace, say, Breyer. It was then that the fight over the filibuster would have made sense. It was then when the chance of enticing a few Republicans to maybe not allow the change in the rules would have been at its highest.

It was then that some so called “fair minded” (I would say naïve, at best, and probably stupid) Republican Senators who have deep reservations about the rule change could have been convinced that the balance of power on SCOTUS should be maintained and, thus, the filibuster rule maintained too.

But Democrats gave it away. There is nothing now stopping Trump from using any vacancy to appoint the most conservative judges that he may wish to appoint.

This is the cost of the senseless maneuver Democrats just engaged in. This is why I, and many other pundits, are bewildered.

What was the benefit?