While I believe that when Harry Reid first did this, the situation was different because Obama’s nominees were not coming solely from some ultra-left wing group (Exhibit “A” – Merrick Garland), in the end it was as wrong for Reid to do it then as it is for McConnell to do it again now.
The Republicans were simply giving Obama the huge middle finger on everything. Garland’s nomination is clear evidence of that. Whereas now, the united Democratic opposition to Trump’s nominees is as much a testament to the absurdity, and far extreme, of virtually every one of his nominations. You can largely thank the Federalist Society for that.
As a completely logical (at least from McConnell’s twisted viewpoint) progression from his decision to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court justices, the decision to also now do so for Federal judges should come as no surprise.
If left unchanged, what this leaves us with is a Federal judiciary which will fast become almost obscenely partisan. There will be absolutely no incentive for either Party to nominate someone who at least ostensibly has a record that includes some penchant for moderation.
If you are before a Federal judge in any location in this country, you should be able to receive the same, impartial adjudication of your case. That is increasingly not true and it sure won’t get any better now.
McConnell knows that both the Senate’s and Trump’s days are very likely numbered with the looming 2020 election. Doing this now will allow the Republicans to pack as many of their hand-picked, ultra-conservatives into the Federal judiciary as they possibly can between now and Jan 20, 2021.
So what should be the Democratic response if and when they gain complete control in 2021?
I believe that these actions by McConnell have forced the Democratic hand, at least for the next hopefully Democratic controlled term from 2021-2024. The only way to counteract the damage that has been done during Trump’s first term is to continue this “nuclear” option and to nominate and confirm as many moderate to Progressive judges as possible while they can. That most certainly applies to the Supreme Court.
However, before Democratic control ends, I strongly believe that the Democratic majority should then author and pass binding legislation that will make the 60 vote majority in the Senate (i.e. the “filibuster”) permanent. I could see even increasing that to 61 or 62. That would prevent this from being done again, by either party, in the future.
If that will ever be done, it would have to be the Democrats to do it. Do you think that in any reality, the Republicans would ever place that limit on themselves? Their idea of an ideal Supreme Court is quite obviously nine Neil Gorsuch’s or nine Clarence Thomas’s. I don’t think even they could stomach nine Brett Kavanaugh’s however. 🙂
If a Party cannot garner at least some support from the opposition party, then those judges should never be allowed to sit on the Federal bench. Exhibits “B” – Brett Kavanaugh and Neil Gorsuch.
We can never again allow judges to be hand-picked from a list developed by some ultra-right or ultra-left wing group, such as the Judicial Crisis Network (JCN) or the Federalist Society.