From a strategic viewpoint, Senate Democrats have every incentive to let the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees live another day. Mitch McConnell knows that there will be a political cost for going nuclear on the Supreme Court filibuster, and he does not seem very eager to pay it. Nor does there seem to be that great of an appetite for working around the Senate filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. Nearly every signal that Republican Senate leadership has sent indicates that the party would very much like to approve Gorsuch — and any other Trump Supreme Court nominee — through the regular order of the Senate. This situation gives Senate Democrats some small measure of power: As long as the filibuster persists, their expectations become a variable that has to be factored into the calculus of any Supreme Court nomination. That variable may or may not have that much weight — but it will have some weight.You can read the rest here.
Bill Kristol has a piece up in the latest issue of The Weekly Standard that underlines the way that a Democratic refusal to accept any Trump Supreme Court nominee could end up backfiring on the party. While the Senate GOP may be willing to compromise on some nominees, they will not stand by and allow Democrats to block every Republican nominee to the highest court in the land.
This might be dismissed as concern trolling, but it shouldn’t be: Americans of all stripes have an interest in preserving the minority’s voice in the affairs of the Senate, and the filibuster is one of the key mechanisms for the minority. (And, for what little it’s worth, I have argued for the benefits of the filibuster when both Republicans and Democrats held the majority.) The filibustering of Supreme Court nominees is a relatively new innovation, so removing this filibuster might not be as radical a departure from Senate tradition as ending the legislative filibuster. But this removal could contribute to a long-term erosion of norms for protecting the power of the minority. Ironically, the time when partisan tensions are so high is also the time when compromise-encouraging institutions are so important.