On Monday, June 19, 2017 the U.S. Supreme Court rolled back a long-standing Patent and Trademark Office regulation that prohibits disparaging trademarks. The Supreme Court ruled in favor of The Slants, a band whose name disparages Chinese and Asian people. The ruling will affect the status of the Washington Redskins, whose trademark was revoked in 2014 for disparaging Native Americans.
DJT will occupy the White House for two, maybe four, or if hellfire inundates the political landscape of these United States, for eight more years. In contrast, Neil Gorsuch will occupy his new seat in the Supreme Court for much longer. The Senate has, for one hundred years, required three fifths of the Senate (or sixty senators) to agree to vote to confirm a Supreme Court Justice. A cloture vote that would require the Senate to cease filibuster was too high for any majority party to intercede. This is because by tradition it was understood that Supreme Court Justices should be apolitical, and that both minority and majority parties should agree on the nominee.
In 2005 Supreme Court Nominee Harriet Miers met with the Senate Judiciary where she was encountered opposition. Miers had never actually served as a judge, and was perceived as one of Bush’s political protégés. At the time Republicans held a majority in the U.S. Senate, but requiring votes from Democrats, Miers withdrew her name knowing that she would never earn the approval of the minority party who would have filibustered. Enough Democrats did agree to nomination of the very conservative Samuel Alito who they believed to be less partisan and more experienced. In 1968 Republicans used a filibuster to delay a vote on Abe Fortas. He was not able to gain enough cloture votes to proceed, and Fortas soon thereafter withdrew his name. This system has worked for both Republicans and Democrats. Filibuster is a safety net to prevent political extremists from being elected to the Supreme Court.
President Barack Obama presented an apolitical centrist judge in Merrick Garland. The Senate (Mitch McConnell and the Republican leadership) decided that they would gamble on the 2016 Election by not allowing a hearing for Garland. Because they chose obstruction, America was deprived a Supreme Court Judge for over a year.
Then entered DJT who presented Neil Gorsuch, who unlike Garland was neither apolitical, nor a centrist. Republican senators, used their simple majority to block Garland, did not have enough votes to force a cloture. Instead of discussing Gorsuch’s nomination, and working with Democrats, they changed a one-hundred-year-old rule that protected Americans from electing political hacks into the Supreme Court.
The Republicans rushed to put in Neil Gorsuch. Perhaps, they acted so hastily because DJT is currently under federal investigation for treason, and the U.S. Senate wanted to install a conservative judge before impeachment hearings would ultimately halt the nomination process. Republican senators such as Ted Cruz certainly had no interest in investigating the nominee. During Gorsuch’s hearing the instead of asking him about pertinent issues regarding his his positions, the Texas senator asked him about how he enjoyed rodeos in Colorado. Democrats believe that DJT is not in a position to nominate a Supreme Court Justice because Supreme Court Justices, unlike U.S. Presidents, remain in power until they die or choose to retire, and the confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice with ties to a possible fraudulent Trump presidency would easily have devastating effects, lasting for generations.
Republicans will not hold the White House and Congress forever. What goes up must come down. The tide will turn, but this Senate rule will not. Mitch McConnell has affixed a Band-Aid to heal an infected contusion. He won this battle, but in the end America has lost. He has set a precedent to allow all future Supreme Court nominees to become political appointments. I hope that when Democrats win back the Senate, that they take the higher ground by reinstating filibuster for Supreme Court judges.