Note to Democrats: Spare us the lectures about doing the right thing. And while you're at it, don't bother finger-wagging at us about some faux concerns you have. And don't even think of uttering the name Merrick Garland.
On Thursday, U.S. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., announced that he would oppose the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the United States Supreme Court, and that Senate Democrats would likely begin filibustering the nomination, all but assuring Gorsuch's bid would fail to clear the 60 votes needed to win confirmation.
All in all, something mighty big must have happened between now and 2006 when Gorsuch was first confirmed to the U.S. Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by a unanimous vote.
The only problem is that Democrats can't quite contort themselves enough to give a clear answer as to why Gorsuch was so qualified then and not now.
Senate Democrats, during days of grilling Gorsuch, seemed to not like him because he wouldn't give them definitive answers. But, isn't that what you want in a future Supreme Court justice — one whose mind is open enough to not prejudge a case or issue before a careful analysis of the facts and law?
It seems to us like Gorsuch's cool, respectful approach, even during intensely pointed questioning, makes him the ideal candidate in this overheated political climate.
Surely Gorsuch's opinions haven't been so unorthodox, so unsupported that he's unqualified to sit on the bench of the nation's highest court.
Instead, this move seems to be nothing more than a partisan and tired response to the politicking the Senate Republicans did last year when Garland was nominated.
Granted, at least Gorsuch was granted a hearing. Garland was never even asked. However, in the end, both could result in the same thing — not giving a nominee the courtesy of a "yes" or "no" vote.
What's good enough advice for a 2-year-old spoiled child seems good enough for a group of petty Senators: Two wrongs don't make a right.
Gorsuch deserves an up-or-down vote regardless. If Democrats are so concerned about the ideology or legal philosophy of Gorsuch, then they should vote their conscience and make their case.
A filibuster isn't a vote. A filibuster is just another symptom of a diseased and dysfunctional political process that continues to value a tit-for-tat mindset while the voters see little get done. This kind of one-upsmanship will only serve to widen the divisions in our politics.
We believe that Gorsuch's background and legal bonafides have positioned him well for the spot formerly held by Justice Antonin Scalia. And even though some of his rulings may cause eyebrows to raise, he has been praised by conservatives and liberals alike for his thoughtful and consistent approach to ruling on the bench.
In many ways, the courts are our last and still-best hope for preserving our rights and liberties when politicians try to usurp or co-opt them by terrible legislation, policy or executive orders. In that way, Gorsuch would seem to be ideal for the position, as he criticized the very man — President Donald J. Trump — for the commander-in-chief's unwarranted criticism of federal judges. That kind of independent chutzpah is exactly what we need.
We call on the Senate to relent and do the right thing: Confirm Gorsuch. He was good enough in 2006 and he's certainly qualified now. Rise above the partisanship, and we believe the independent voters and those citizens who continue to be alienated by the politics might see that the system can still work.
We know Montana Sen. Steve Daines supports Gorsuch. Sen. Jon Tester remains undecided, according to his office on Thursday. A spokesperson said that if he ultimately supports Gorsuch, he will vote for cloture to end a filibuster. If he doesn't support Gorsuch, he will not vote for cloture, meaning the filibuster could continue, if it begins.
We have to wonder: After weeks of review of Gorsuch's writing, days of testimony and responses from Montanans, why is Tester still undecided? That seems like waffling. What in the next couple of days or weeks will suddenly sway Tester's mind one way or another? And if he's still waiting on feedback from Montanans, is this some kind of popularity contest? Shouldn't there be more a more thoughtful reason?
If not, no more lectures about swamps and their need to be drained because Democrats would seem to be wallowing in the muck on this one.
-- The Billings Gazette