Senate Tradition Requires a Majority Vote for SCOTUS

In the face of a promised filibuster by the Democrats of Judge Gorsuch's nomination to the Supreme Court, Republican senators have spoken out strongly against the use of the filibuster on Supreme Court nominees and have indicated their support if Leader McConnell is forced to exercise the constitutional option or "Reid Rule" on the Gorsuch nomination.

Senator Lamar Alexander noted earlier today that he has consistently voted for cloture on presidential nominees even when he voted against confirming them:

[W]hat the Democrats are proposing to do next week, quite apart from the fact that Judge Gorsuch is one of the most eminently qualified people we have seen come around in a long time, they're flying in the face of 230 years of tradition in the Senate by insisting that a presidential nominee to the Supreme Court require more than 51 votes to be confirmed. Now, I look very quickly back at my own votes. None of us are perfect, and I'm not asking for any merit badges, but I wonder where the Democrats are who are trying to do at least what I was trying to do when President Obama was there. And I found at least ten times where I voted for cloture, voted to cut off debate for controversial nominees with whom I disagreed with, and then I voted against them when the vote was 51. . . . [W]here are the Democrats looking to vote like that, to preserve the Senate's 230-year tradition of approving presidential nominees by a majority vote? I think this is a terrible precedent, not justified, and I'm sorry to see things heading in this direction. 

Senator Alexander gave extended remarks on the history and use of the filibuster in the Senate yesterday:

Throughout the Senate's history, approval of even the most controversial presidential nominations have required only a majority vote. . . . In fact, Senate rules have always allowed senators the option to filibuster to death a presidential nomination, yet it has almost never happened. . . . Filibustering a presidential nomination has always been treated differently than filibustering a legislative matter. . . . No one has ever disputed our right in the Senate, regardless of who was in charge, to use our constitutional duty of advice and consent to delay and examine, sometimes cause nominations to be withdrawn or even to defeat nominees by a majority vote. 

But as we approach a vote next week on Neil Gorsuch on the floor of the Senate, it is useful to remember that the tradition of the United States Senate has been to treat legislative matters one way and presidential nominations a different way. Filibustered to death legislation, yes. Filibustered to death presidential nominations, no. Should the Neil Gorsuch nomination come to the floor soon, as i believe it will, overwhelming Senate tradition requires that whether to approve it should be decided by a majority vote and there should be no attempt by the minority to filibuster the nomination, especially of such a qualified man, to death. 

Such long-serving, institutionalist senators as Senator Hatch, Senator Shelby, and Senator Graham have also supported confirming Judge Gorsuch even if faced with a Democrat filibuster, while they lament what the Democrats' forcing the Republicans to exercise the constitutional option means for the future of the Senate.

RNLA thanks these senators and the other Republican senators willing to uphold 230 years of Senate tradition by supporting an up-or-down vote for Judge Gorsuch.