On a day when Tomahawk missiles fell in Syria, another question will get less attention than it deserves. Who murdered civility in the Senate? OK, maybe we are exaggerating. The death of the 60-vote rule today is not the death of civility or bipartisan initiatives in the Senate or our country, but it is a significant milestone. The requirement of a super-majority in the Senate dates back a century. In 1917, amid acrimonious arguments over whether the United States should take part in World War I, the Senate created the cloture rule to provide a mechanism for a supermajority of 67 senators to cut off debate and proceed to a final vote. In 1975, the Senate reduced the supermajority requirement to 60 votes, which still required Presidents to nominate judges who were not just qualified but also sufficiently centrist to gain support from both sides of the aisle.
Neil Gorsuch is a highly qualified judge. But so was Merrick Garland. President Donald Trump has recently played a key role in the long, slow death of civility in the USA, but others preceded him. Joe Biden created the famous "Biden Rule" in 1992 when Biden argued against considering a nominee from President George H. W. Bush in an election year. So like the "Murder on the Orient Express," there were many hands on the knife in this case.
What is the impact of the loss of the 60-vote rule? Without a doubt the chances have increased that the next Supreme Court nominee will be more partisan and less qualified as a result. That change in the rules, compounded over the years, may have a profound effect on the ability of the Supreme Court to fulfill its duties. In the shorter term, the change will lower the confidence of Americans that our Supreme Court judges will place the Constitution above politics.
It was quite sadly fitting to see that on the same day that the Nuclear Option was invoked, our nation saw the burial of Senator John Glenn today in Arlington Cemetery. Astronaut, Senator, great American, during his tenure Senator Glenn was one of the wise leaders of honorable bipartisan dialogue and compromise in addressing the great issue of our country. His kind will be missed, and may be part of a dying breed.
#NuclearOption #Gorsuch #SCOTUS