Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Smart SCOTUS Oppo Strategerie (sic)

Curt Levey on Smart Strategy to Fight Trump's Supreme Court Picks

As sagacious of a strategist Committee for Justice President Curt Levey may be, it seems that Democrats in the District of Calamity have taken a different tact.

Senator Jeff Merkely (D-OR) has declared that there must be payback for the 114th Congress not approving lame duck former President Obama's pick of Merrick  Garland.  Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer )D-NY) has declared that he will not work with President Trump unless he utterly does the Democrats' bidding.

In years past, protestations of non-cooperation might have caused Senate Republicans to buckle and moderate.  But thanks to former Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the Reid Rule, cooperation for cloture on appointments is now moot.

Democrats may bluster that only needing a majority was not intended to be for Supreme Court nominees, but that is after the fact dicta.  Per Hugh Hewitt and Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX), the Reid Rule is about the Senate only requiring a majority to change the rules mid-session. Besides, Reid himself intimated that he showed his Democrat Senate colleagues how to steamroll the GOP with this rule, even for High Court picks Even liberal Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) admits that the filibuster is no longer an emergency brake on nominations.

Under normal circumstances, a newly elected President has little opposition to his first Supreme Court nominee, especially early in his first term.  But these are not ordinary times.  Democrats are wont to hyperventilate about anything that the Trump Administration does, and seem happy to escalate any altercation to the extreme.  Democrats have sought to slow walk Trump Administration confirmation hearings, going so far as to not show up at Senate Committee Hearing votes.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has been chary to confirm that Republicans will invoke what was once called "the nuclear option", but he has been steadfast in assuring the public that Trump Administration will be confirmed.  The same is true regarding  President  Trump's pick for the Supreme Court.

The danger that Democrats have in protesting so vehemently to everything in the early Trump Administration and calling supporters out to the ramparts is three fold.

 First, they risk over-exhausting their partisans.  You can only cry "the sky is falling" only so often before it loses its desired effect.

Secondly, Democrats are not picking their battles wisely.  It is not only the incoherence of opposing everything, but in going to the mat for losing causes.  Because of the Reid Rule, President Trump will get his Cabinet appointments and most likely the first Supreme Court pick.  By fighting so hard on the nominations, it may serve to demoralize their partisans.

Thirdly, the hyperventilating opposition may play well for the progressive base of the Democrat Party but it may serve to alienate white, working class Democrats who voted for Trump in 2016 on positions and personnel with which they agree.

Historically, Democrats do not turn out in mid-term elections.  In the 2018 election cycle, Democrats have 23 seats up in the Senate, including in states which voted for Trump.  Such strident opposition, epitomized by an obstructionist approach to Trump's first Supreme Court pick (even before he is announced) may solidify a one time "what have you got to lose" vote to a realigning "my party has left me" metanoia, thereby making  Blue Dogs and DC Democrats politically endangered species

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