Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer is staring at a second Donald Trump-nominated Supreme Court justice who has multiple sexual assault allegations levied against him. If Brett Kavanaugh is confirmed, it will be by a razor-thin margin. What’s Schumer’s big takeaway from this? That the Democrats should make things harder on themselves the next time they’re in charge.
Schumer, a Democrat from New York who is absolutely not up to the task of taking on Trump, responded to a question in a press conference today asking if he would commit to restoring the 60-vote threshold to confirm Supreme Court justices, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did away with in order to get Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court.
“Look, the bottom line is that the Republican leader moved it down to 52, and the bottom line is that we’ll have to look at that should we get back in the majority, plain and simple,” Schumer responded.
Apart from the fact that McConnell actually moved the threshold down to 51 votes (in case there’s a 50-50 tie, the Vice President gets a tiebreaker), what the fuck is Schumer talking about?
The problem with Kavanaugh isn’t the fact that he could be confirmed by a simple majority of senators, it’s that a simple majority exists to approve his nomination in the first place. That problem can only be rectified by having a non-Republican majority in the Senate.
Why would Schumer hamstring himself and his caucus—and a future Democratic nominee for the Supreme Court, under a future Democratic president—by suggesting that he’s considering reverting to the 60-vote rule? Does he actually think this idea is going to resonate with the other side?
This is the difference between McConnell and Schumer: when Schumer’s predecessor Harry Reid changed the Senate’s rules to lower the 60-vote threshold to 51 votes for executive and judicial appointments (but not Supreme Court nominees) in order to end a Republican blockade against former President Barack Obama’s nominees, McConnell saw that as an opening to go the whole way once he had a majority, and said as much when it happened.
Put in the same position, again, Schumer is choosing instead to make an appeal to fairness. Fuck that! The filibuster sucks ass. The record for the longest filibuster in history belongs to Strom Thurmond, who held up the Civil Rights Act of 1957 for over a day in one of the conservative movement’s all-time great diaper-fillings. What an incredible legacy!
While Schumer is toying with Making Things Fair Again, last week—in defense of, again, a man who has been accused of multiple sexual assaults—Republicans were publicly warning Democrats that they “better watch out for your nominees.”
If Schumer wants to truly right this ship, he would to end the filibuster—which makes an already undemocratic institution even less democratic—on all votes. But given that Schumer and the Senate Democratic leadership—and their counterparts in the House, for that matter—seem to care less about enacting good policy that will help people than about norms, don’t count on that happening anytime soon.