Conservative pundit Jennifer Rubin, in her “Right Turn” blog featured in The Washington Post, actually believes that Democrats don’t have a reason to oppose Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch (“Gorsuch deprives Democrats reason to oppose,” The Washington Post, 3/22/2017):
When President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, our reaction (before the surprising move by Senate Republicans to refuse him a confirmation vote) was: He wouldn’t be my choice. But he’s an outstanding judge. And the president could have done a lot worse. At least the judge is smart and decent and displays a fine judicial temperament.
Democrats might do well — after voicing their understandable outrage at the tactics that deprived Garland of a seat — to recognize the same of Judge Neil Gorsuch.
So much wrong in so little space. Where to even begin?
It’s disingenuous to call the move by Senate Republicans to refuse him a confirmation vote “surprising.” Republican leaders met the night of Barack Obama’s inauguration to discuss how unified obstructionism on their part would hobble his presidency. So yeah, when Scalia keeled over and the Republicans had a majority in the senate, it’s insane to think their standard move of opposing everything Obama did would be surprising when it came to a Supreme Court pick—especially since he already had two.
Add on top of that that Rubin skips straight to saying Republicans never gave Garland a confirmation vote. Confirmation vote? Garland never got a hearing. By simply being in the room, Democrats are already giving Gorsuch far more than what Republicans were willing to give Garland.
Here, we suggest, is the correct test for Democrats: If Garland had gotten his seat and another seat opened up for President Trump to fill, would they vote to confirm Gorsuch?
Here, I suggest, is the correct test for Republicans: If Gorsuch gets his seat and another seat opened up in 2020 for President Trump to fill, would Republicans say Democrats were justified if a majority Democratic senate refused to give Trump’s pick a hearing, and waited until after they won the 2020 election to allow the newly-presiding Democratic president to fill the seat that became vacant under Trump?
Garland didn’t get his seat, so imagining that he did is pointless. Why is it incumbent upon Senate Democrats to follow rules when Senate Republicans are willing to ignore them in lockestep? Besides, McConnell can use the nuclear option and has to make sure that three Republican senators don’t defect. They can do it on their own. Democrats don’t have to do anything, so why give the Republicans anything?
Rubin is attempting to conflate Democrats’ objection to Republican obstructionism and anti-constitutionalism with an objection to Neil Gorsuch’s character as a judge. Cooperating with the Republican senate in this instance is not about Gorsuch—it’s about setting the precedent that Republicans are not bound by the constitution, but Democrats are. It’s a precedent that shouldn’t exist.