Senate Republicans voted to end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees Thursday after Democrats refused to advance the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to a final vote, a move grassroots conservatives say had to happen out of respect for the Constitution.
Republicans cited the precedent of Democrats from November 2013, when then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid led a rules change to kill the filibuster for lower court judicial nominees and executive branch personnel requiring confirmation.
The move came after a 55-45 vote to end debate on Gorsuch, five votes short of the 60 votes needed. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell then moved to consider the Gorsuch nomination under the rule change instituted by Democrats. His motion was denied, but McConnell then appealed the ruling of the chair and the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees was killed in a party line vote.
While Democrats call the move an attack on democracy, Tea Party Patriots Founder Jenny Beth Martin says it’s the Democrats who took an extreme position with their filibuster.
“When it comes to Supreme Court nominees, never in the history of our entire country have we had a partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee. It just hasn’t been done. What the Democrats are doing right now is breaking the tradition and the practice that we’ve had in this country for over 200 years,” said Martin, whose group has been aligned with the Judicial Crisis Network in pushing for the confirmation of Gorsuch.
The Tea Party Patriots are best known for advocating smaller government and lower taxes, but Martin says the Supreme Court fight is very much in her organization’s interest.
“We understand it is critically important that if we want to have constitutionally-limited government, then we have to have a Supreme Court that upholds the law and judges laws based on the Constitution,” said Martin.
She is convinced the Democrats don’t really have a case against Gorsuch but are still bitter over 2016.
“They are just frustrated that it’s not their person, that they lost the election in November, that it is President Trump who won the election and therefore won the ability to nominate Judge Gorsuch and they are doing all they can to resist what President Trump was elected to do,” said Martin.
Martin says the public is engaged on this issue and overwhelmingly in support of Gorsuch, but she says Democrats aren’t listening to all of their constituents.
“Democrat senators are listening to their base. They’re not listening to the whole of the American people, but they are listening to their base. So they are doing what they think their base wants them to do,” said Martin.
She believes the effort to filibuster Gorsuch will backfire on red state Democrats like Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., in 2018.
“She has said that this would be a very political maneuver if they filibustered Gorsuch. That’s what she’s doing and she’s doing it out of pure politics, not out of what’s best for the country,” said Martin.
“I know that it is a political job and the things the elected officials do they are going to look at things through the prism of politics. Sometimes you need to do what’s best for the country because you have taken an oath to uphold the Constitution for your country,” said Martin.
And Martin is firmly convinced fidelity to the Constitution will be a hallmark of Gorsuch’s time on the Supreme Court.
“He looks at the law and he respects the law as it’s written. He doesn’t intend to make law and create law out of whole cloth from the bench with his decisions, and he is going to look at the law through the prism of the Constitution,” said Martin.
With the filibuster nuked, a final Senate vote on Gorsuch is expected Friday evening.