Republicans Turn to Nuclear Option
After the Democratic filibuster against Judge Neil Gorsuch's appointment, Republicans have opted to change the rules of the Senate.
During today's vote, Democratic Party senators held on to the opposition for Neil Gorsuch's to hold the life term in the Supreme Court. Such a decision has marked a milestone in the history of the US Senate, as retaliation from the Republican Party would forever change the rules of the game.
The Republican response, known as the Nuclear Option, has radically changed the tradition of consensus that characterized the US Senate, in order to get Gorsuch to reach the court after a simple majority vote.
Despite the campaign for Gorsuch's "unblemished" reputation, today's vote has transformed him into the first judge, of the last 16 voted for the Supreme, which does not receive the support of both parties, as reported by El País.
According to the Spanish newspaper, Donald Trump, who during the election campaign promised, “that he would elect an ultraconservative judge willing to revoke fundamental rights consolidated in US law”, would have caused such a division.
This radicalization of positions led Republican majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell to take advantage of Republican votes to "change the functioning of the Senate, which has been in force since the Second World War," as El País continues.
Gorsuch's ratification through the traditional Senate method required 60 votes, of which the Republicans had only 52 and the Democrats had 48. In the face of the impossibility of reaching an agreement, Mitch McConnell applied the Nuclear Option, historically changing the legislative organ.
This change is extremely delicate for the American democracy, whose tradition prevented the radicalization of the political tendency according to the President in charge. From now on, the selection of judges will depend on the party that dominates the Senate and, in case it coincides with the presidential party, "he will no longer need to choose a candidate that can receive bipartisan support, empowering liberal and conservative activists over those in the middle", according to The Atlantic.
The alternative proposed by the Democrats, while presenting their opposition, was that the Republicans compelled Trump to choose a new candidate that would be approved by consensus by both parties.
As Democrat leader Charles Schumer put it before the Senate, “the 60-vote bar in the Senate is the guardrail of our democracy". “When our body politic is veering too far to the right or to the left, the answer is not to dismantle the guard rails and go over the cliff, but to turn the wheel back toward the middle. The answer is not to undo the guardrails—the rules—it’s to steer back to the middle and get a more mainstream candidate”.
But this conflict has its antecedents in the era of the Obama administration, when the circumstances were exactly opposite and it was the Democratic bench the one that eliminated the threshold of the 60 votes.
This time, McConnell adjudged the grievance of the Senate tradition to the Democrats, giving them one last chance to change their minds. “If you truly cannot support the nomination of this eminently qualified nominee, then at least allow the bipartisan majority of the Senate that supports Gorsuch to take an up-or-down vote,” he said. “You already deployed the ‘nuclear option’ in 2013, don’t trigger it again in 2017.”
But the decision was already made, and Gorsuch will be confirmed as Supreme Court Judge tomorrow.