Sen. Schumer’s chutz­pah

He pro­poses a Supreme Court jus­tice with the stamp of Demo­cratic ap­proval

The Washington Times Daily - - EDITORIAL -

Chuck Schumer is a New Yorker, so he knows about chutz­pah. He schmears it lib­er­ally on his break­fast bagel. Chutz­pah is the use­ful Yid­dish for “shame­less au­dac­ity,” once de­fined by the young man who mur­dered his par­ents and begged the judge and jury to show “mercy for a poor or­phan boy.”

The new and im­proved def­i­ni­tion is by Sen. Schumer him­self, the leader of the Democrats in the U.S. Se­nate who helped Harry Reid change the Se­nate rules four years ago to con­firm Demo­cratic judges with 51 votes, and now in­sists that Repub­li­cans use the old rules to re­quire 60 votes to con­firm Neil Gor­such for the U.S. Supreme Court.

It’s true, as Mr. Schumer ar­gues, that con­firm­ing a Supreme Court nom­i­nee and nom­i­nees for the U.S. Courts of Ap­peal is not ex­actly the same thing, but it’s a dis­tinc­tion with­out a dif­fer­ence. Mr. Schumer’s sud­den con­cern for Se­nate prece­dent, and his re­gret for what he did in 2013 is not re­morse with 20/20 hind­sight. Mr. Schumer and the Democrats are hardly say­ing, “If we had it to do all over again, we wouldn’t do it.” (They’re say­ing they want to do it all over Judge Gor­such.)

The most gen­er­ous in­ter­pre­ta­tion of Mr. Schumer’s re­mark­able turn­around, which sets a prece­dent for imag­i­na­tive hypocrisy, is that he fell out of his bath­tub, hit his head on the toi­let seat, and now suf­fers am­ne­sia. Or per­haps he for­got that he and Harry Reid, his pre­de­ces­sor as the leader of Se­nate Democrats, once de­clared that Pres­i­dent Ge­orge W. Bush would get no Supreme Court nom­i­nees through the Se­nate for the last 18 months of his sec­ond term, or that a Se­nate con­trolled by Democrats wouldn’t con­sider nom­i­nees of Pres­i­dent Ge­orge H.W. Bush in the twi­light of his pres­i­dency.

For­tu­nately, Sen. Charles Grass­ley, the Repub­li­can chair­man of the Se­nate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee that sent the Gor­such nom­i­na­tion on to the full Se­nate on Mon­day, does not at­tribute Mr. Schumer’s mis­chief to am­ne­sia or an ab­sent-minded loss of mem­ory. It’s be­come abun­dantly clear that if the Democrats are will­ing to fil­i­buster some­body with the cre­den­tials, ju­di­cial tem­per­a­ment and in­de­pen­dence of Judge Gor­such, Mr. Grass­ley says, they would fil­i­buster any­body.

“Had Hillary Clin­ton won the pres­i­dency and Democrats re­cap­tured con­trol of the Se­nate in Novem­ber, does any­one re­ally think that Mr. Schumer, as ma­jor­ity leader, would not do the ex­act same thing to over­come a hy­po­thet­i­cal Repub­li­can fil­i­buster of her nom­i­nee to suc­ceed the late Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia?”

Mr. Schumer in­sists with right­eous piety that he wants to do the right thing. “In­stead of chang­ing the rules … why [couldn’t] Pres­i­dent Trump, Democrats and Repub­li­cans in the Se­nate sit down and try to come up with a main­stream nom­i­nee?” He even volunteers to work with Pres­i­dent Trump to choose a jus­tice that Democrats would vote for. He of­fers no spe­cific can­di­date, but Hillary Clin­ton is a lawyer presently with­out a client. She’s prob­a­bly look­ing for work.

The cap­i­tal is rife, as usual, with ru­mor and fan­tas­ti­cal spec­u­la­tion, and one no­tion said to be a Demo­cratic ploy is that Mr. Schumer and his sen­a­tors would agree not to fil­i­buster the Gor­such nom­i­na­tion if the Repub­li­cans would agree to en­able a fil­i­buster next time with­out the threat of a nu­clear op­tion hang­ing over the de­bate. But Mitch McCon­nell, the Se­nate ma­jor­ity leader, did not come up from Ken­tucky on a truck­load of turnips, and he says that one way or the other Judge Gor­such will be con­firmed when the Se­nate votes on Fri­day. “How that hap­pens re­ally de­pends on our Demo­cratic friends.”

Neil Gor­such is no stealth can­di­date. Pres­i­dent Trump has done what he said he would do, ap­point a like-minded judge to re­place An­tonin Scalia. He se­lected him from a list of can­di­dates he in­tro­duced early in the 2016 cam­paign. Ev­ery­body un­der­stood the stakes. Mr. Schumer and his sen­a­tors are learn­ing the hard les­son that elec­tions have con­se­quences.

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