Congressman Ted Lieu believes that Donald Trump should not be allowed to appoint anyone to The Supreme Court - the most significant domestic power of any President - unless and until Mr. Trump has been cleared of all allegations of illegal or even treasonous collusion with Vladimiir Putin and Russia. That said, The Senate Judiciary Committee is poised to vote on Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, on Monday, April 3. Further, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has promised that Mr. Gorsuch would be voted on and confirmed by the full Senate before April 7. So, what do Americans need to know about this and how can Americans “vote” in this incredibly important “election”?
1. The “Election” of a Supreme Court Justice is, in many ways, 10 times as important as the election of Donald Trump or any other President. Neil Gorsuch, like any Justice, if confirmed, will serve for life. At 49 he could conceivably serve for 40 years, 10 times as long as Donald Trump’s four-year term.
Donald Trump’s Nominee Will Likely NOT Be Confirmed Unless Republicans “Nuke” The Filibuster
2. Donald Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch very well may be defeated. At the close of the Confirmation Hearings for Mr. Gorsuch, Chuck Schumer announced that the Senate Democrats will be “Filibustering” the nomination. ALL THAT MEANS is that the Senate Democrats, the minority party, will invoke a procedural rule that says that - because it is a really, really important thing - it will take 60 votes to confirm instead of 51. It is VERY likely that Gorsuch will get only 55 or 56 votes, or maybe only 52. (As a citizen, you can weigh in on this and tell your Senator to join the “filibuster” so that it does require 60 votes for this nomination. Tell Your Senators Now)
3. Donald Trump has asked his fellow Republicans, the Majority party in The Senate, to change the rules in order to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed and installed on the Court. What this means is that the Republicans would “blow up” or “nuke” the Senate Rule, (”the Filibuster”) in place since 1837, allowing minority parties to ask for these 60 instead of 51 votes. It is also called “The Nuclear Option” because it permanently destroys the ways things work in Congress and America. (As a citizen, you can weigh in on this and tell your Senator to not change the rules to “nuke” the filibuster. Tell Your Senators Now)
4. Donald Trump and the Senate Republicans can “blow up” the Filibuster all by themselves. While it takes 60 votes to overcome a Filibuster, it only takes 51 votes to change the Senate rules and end it. The Republicans have 52 Senators. If even 50 of them, plus Vice President Pence, vote to change the rules, they will have 51 and the Filibuster will be gone.
What Happens if We “Nuke” The Senate Filibuster?
5. Even so, many Republicans are unlikely to want to change the rules because once “nuked” the Filibuster is likely gone forever, giving Donald Trump and future Presidents more power than Presidents have ever had in the history of The United States. Why? Because under the Checks and Balances of our government Presidents have always had to have at least some of the OTHER party to consent to do really big things like confirm Supreme Court nominees. After the Filibuster is gone, President Trump can appoint virtually anyone he wants - no matter how horrible the other party or the country believes that person is - and the other party and the country can do absolutely NOTHING about it. Some have said that eliminating the “Check and Balance” of The Senate Filibuster would give Donald Trump and every future President the same kind of totalitarian powers that Vladimir Putin has in Russia and that exist in Dictatorships in other countries around the world. End The Filibuster, End Democracy in America
6. Once the Filibuster is gone, a Democratic President with only 50 members of his or her party in The Senate (plus the Democratic Vice-President) can (and will) appoint FAR LEFT, possibly even “Socialist” Justices and The Republicans will not be able to do anything about it. A future Democratic President - let’s say a President Oprah Winfrey or President Al Franken or President Cory Booker - could conceivably appoint Elizabeth Warren or Barack Obama or Van Jones to a Lifetime position on The Supreme Court without needing even 1 Republican vote to confirm.
7. If Donald Trump “nukes” the Filibuster, it is, indeed, likely gone forever, changing America forever. What party is going to change the rules - once in power in the future - to go back to needing 60 votes to do what they want instead of only 50? “Institutionalists” in The United States Senate like Republican Lisa Murkowski are very, very concerned about the damage such a change could do to The Senate and Democracy in America.
Who Is Neil Gorsuch? What Are The Pros and Cons About This Guy?
8. Donald Trump and Republicans say that Neil Gorsuch is extremely well-qualified, smart, has a stellar educational background and a reputation for writing strong, well-reasoned opinions in his current job as a Judge for The 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. His nomination is strongly SUPPORTED by The NRA, The Federalist Society, The Heritage Foundation, The Family Research Council, The First Liberty Institute and many other Pro-Life and Conservative organizations.
9. Democrats say that Neil Gorsuch is an “Extremist Conservative” who consistently votes for corporations instead of for workers and “the little guy” and someone who will vote to end gay marriage, end legal abortion, end environmental regulations on water, air and greenhouse gas emissions, end voting rights regulations, vote with The NRA and end gun safety regulations and vote to allow even more big corporate “dark” money into politics. Democrats are asking Donald Trump to appoint a more moderate Supreme Court Justice like current Republican Justice Anthony Kennedy, appointed by Ronald Reagan, and that they would confirm such a moderate, “mainstream” judge. Neil Gorsuch is strongly OPPOSED by The Sierra Club, Planned Parenthood, The Human Rights Campaign, The People For The American Way, the NAACP, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, the Bazelon Center for Mental Health Law, the National Resource Defense Council, NARAL, The AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, NEA, AFT, CWA and many other Pro Choice, Environmental and Progressive organizations
10. At age 49 Neil Gorsuch could conceivably be on The United States Supreme Court until the year 2057, or until most Millennials have retired. This is a very big decision. In the history of The United States Supreme Court, major rulings that affect the day to day lives of average Americans are almost always decided by 5-4 votes, meaning that the vote of Neil Gorsuch, or ANY Justice confirmed by The Senate, is as important or even more so than the decision or act of any President of The United. For example, one Justice, Justice Anthony Kennedy, cast the deciding vote in The Supreme Court case in 2015 that said that gay marriage was now legal in all 50 states of The United States. It is a big deal.
How To “Vote” For or Against Donald Trump’s Nominee
If you would like to see Neil Gorsuch confirmed by The United States Senate, contact your two United States Senators and tell them to #ConfirmNeilGorsuch. If you don’t want Neil Gorsuch confirmed by The United States Senate, contact your two United States Senators and tell them to #FilibusterNeilGorsuch. If 60 Senators agree, Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed. If only 41 of the 48 Democrats disagree, Neil Gorsuch will not be confirmed under current Senate rules.
And if you DO want Senate Republicans to blow up or “nuke” the Senate Filibuster and take away the ability of the minority party (now Independents and Democrats but in the future, the Republicans) to have any say in the choice of this and future Supreme Court nominees, tell your 2 United States Senators to #NukeTheFilibuster. If you DON’T want Senate Republicans to blow up or “nuke” the Senate Filibuster and take away the ability of the minority party (now Independents and Democrats but in the future, the Republicans) to have any say in the choice of this and future Supreme Court nominees, tell your 2 United States Senators to #DON’TNukeTheFilibuster, or #SaveTheFilibuster. To have impact with your Senators, also tell them #IAmVotingIn2018. If there is a Filibuster and 3 or more Republicans agree to #DON’TNukeTheFilibuster, the Filibuster will continue for Supreme Court Justices and Donald Trump will be required to appoint someone other than Neil Gorsuch
Richard Greene is a political communication strategist, a former attorney, national radio talk show host, judicial extern and Clore Warne Fellow at The Constitutional Rights Foundation and author of “Words That Shook The World: 100 Years of Unforgettable Speeches and Events”.