Gor­such win Democrats’ loss

Schumer: Re­mov­ing fil­i­buster makes Se­nate ‘more par­ti­san’

The Washington Times Daily - - POLITICS - BY DAVE BOYER

As Pres­i­dent Trump ful­filled a cam­paign pledge Mon­day with the swear­ing-in of con­ser­va­tive Supreme Court Jus­tice Neil M. Gor­such, the White House said the pres­i­dent has learned it’s vir­tu­ally worth­less to seek co­op­er­a­tion from Se­nate Democrats on ju­di­cial nom­i­na­tions.

“It ba­si­cally showed the pres­i­dent that try­ing to work with Se­nate Democrats … was some­what of a fu­tile task,” White House press secretary Sean Spicer said.

At a sunny swear­ing-in cer­e­mony in the White House Rose Gar­den, Mr. Trump called on Jus­tice Gor­such to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion in­stead of en­gag­ing in ju­di­cial ac­tivism. The pres­i­dent praised the new­est mem­ber of the high court as a con­ser­va­tive in the mold of the late Jus­tice An­tonin Scalia, whose seat he is fill­ing.

“You’re now en­trusted with the sa­cred duty of de­fend­ing our Con­stu­ti­ton,” Mr. Trump told the na­tion’s 113th jus­tice. “Our coun­try is count­ing on you to be wise, im­par­tial and fair — to serve un­der our laws, not over them, and to safe­guard the right of the peo­ple to gov­ern their own af­fairs.”

The pres­i­dent also told the 49-year-old ju­rist, “I have no doubt you will rise to the oc­ca­sion, and the de­ci­sions you will make will not only pro­tect our Con­sti­tu­tion to­day, but for many gen­er­a­tions of Americans to come.”

The new­est jus­tice thanked Mr. Trump for his “great con­fi­dence and trust,” and said he will do ev­ery­thing in his power to be a “faith­ful ser­vant” of the Con­sti­tu­tion.

To the fam­ily of Jus­tice Scalia, Jus­tice Gor­such added, “I won’t ever for­get that the seat I in­herit to­day is that of a very, very great man.”

The life­time ap­point­ment re­stores the con­ser­va­tive ma­jor­ity on the nine-mem­ber Court fol­low­ing the death of Scalia in Fe­bru­ary 2016.

The fill­ing of the Supreme Court va­cancy is ar­guably Mr. Trump’s most sig­nif­i­cant achieve­ment in the first 81 days of his pres­i­dency, which has been marked by a se­ri­ous leg­isla­tive stum­ble on health care and a se­ries of set­backs in court for his travel and refugee lim­its.

The au­di­ence at the swear­ing-in, filled with friends and col­leagues of Jus­tice Gor­such and all eight sit­ting Supreme Court jus­tices, laughed when the pres­i­dent added, “And I got it done in the first 100 days! You think that’s easy?”

The jus­tice’s con­fir­ma­tion was rel­a­tively smooth, but it wasn’t easy. While Democrats didn’t raise any truly dam­ag­ing ob­jec­tions to Jus­tice Gor­such’s back­ground or his rul­ings, they still mus­tered enough op­po­si­tion to mount a fil­i­buster.

Se­nate Repub­li­can lead­ers, in turn, invoked the so-called “nu­clear op­tion,” chang­ing Se­nate rules last week to al­low the con­fir­ma­tion of Supreme Court nom­i­nees with a sim­ple ma­jor­ity of 51 votes in­stead of the cus­tom­ary 60 votes.

White House aides say one of the lessons learned from the Gor­such nom­i­na­tion bat­tle is that Mr. Trump is essen­tially wast­ing his time seek­ing Demo­cratic support for ju­di­cial nom­i­nees.

Dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, Mr. Trump is­sued a list of 21 judges who he said he would con­sider nom­i­nat­ing to the Supreme Court, in­clud­ing then-Judge Gor­usch. He promised to “ap­point jus­tices who, like Jus­tice Scalia, will pro­tect our lib­erty with the high­est re­gard for the Con­sti­tu­tion.”

Mr. Trump re­ceived credit from some ob­servers for trans­parency with the un­usual move. But in the end, it didn’t mat­ter. In the con­fir­ma­tion vote of 54-45, only three Se­nate Democrats voted for Jus­tice Gor­such: Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin III of West Vir­ginia and Joe Don­nelly of In­di­ana.

“Th­ese were peo­ple that made up their minds by and large, re­gard­less of who the per­son was, that ‘We’re go­ing to vote it down,’ ” Mr. Spicer said of the Se­nate Democrats who voted against the nom­i­nee. “That would prob­a­bly [be] the big­gest les­son. But it also shows that when you’ve got the right in­di­vid­ual, you’ve got some­one who’s em­i­nently qual­i­fied, we’re go­ing to suc­ceed in get­ting them” con­firmed.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Charles E. Schumer of New York has said that Repub­li­cans elim­i­nat­ing the fil­i­buster “will make this body a more par­ti­san place” and also “will make the Supreme Court a more par­ti­san place.”

But for­mer Se­nate Demo­cratic Leader Tom Daschle said his own party has “far dirt­ier hands” when it comes to chang­ing Se­nate rules on nom­i­nees.

In a pod­cast in­ter­view with Real Clear Pol­i­tics, Mr. Daschle noted that Se­nate Democrats did away with the fil­i­buster for ju­di­cial nom­i­nees be­low the level of the Supreme Court dur­ing Pres­i­dent Obama’s sec­ond term.

“Un­for­tu­nately, Democrats have far dirt­ier hands when it comes to ero­sion of the in­sti­tu­tional pil­lars of the Se­nate,” he said. “Democrats who may lament this in­sti­tu­tional de­te­ri­o­ra­tion, I think there’s a lot of his­tory here that can’t be ex­plained away.”


Supreme Court Jus­tice An­thony M. Kennedy ad­min­is­ters the ju­di­cial oath to Neil Gor­such while his wife, Marie Louise Gor­such, holds the bi­ble. De­spite Pres­i­dent Trump’s win in the di­vi­sive con­fir­ma­tion process, many pre­dict that the Democrats will con­tinue to stonewall against the pres­i­dent’s fu­ture ju­di­cial picks.

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