It would be a dark day in the history of the United States Senate if Judge Neil Gorsuch is confirmed for the Supreme Court by Senate Republican leaders triggering the nuclear option and destroying any semblance of comity and credibility of the institution once called “the greatest deliberative body.”
Let me propose a grand bargain to avert a cataclysmic disaster that would undermine the integrity, uniqueness and legitimacy of the Senate forever.
Second, in return for this, Republicans would agree that any future Supreme Court nomination during President Trump’s term would be considered under current cloture rules and would agree to a clean debt ceiling and avoiding any parliamentary abuses to preempt the cloture rules on highly divisive issues such as defunding Planned Parenthood.
Having been involved in many major deals when I worked for House Democratic leaders beginning with then-Speaker Tip O’Neill (D-Mass.) and working for leading senators such as Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas), I learned long ago that historically important deals involve both parties giving up things they value and receiving things they value in return.
Personally I oppose the Gorsuch nomination and support the filibuster. My view, like the view of most Democrats, is that by refusing to consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland after he was nominated by President Obama, and forcing through the nomination of Judge Gorsuch for the seat, Republicans would be stealing a Supreme Court seat.
President Obama chose Judge Garland, a brilliantly qualified nominee who was widely praised by many Republicans as well as Democrats, as a show of good faith to Republicans. It was unprecedented and unconscionable that Republican leaders with the support of Republican senators did not even grant the widely acclaimed Garland a hearing.
To confirm Gorsuch through the nuclear option would be an abuse on top of an abuse. It would bring the Senate into public disrepute, destroy the historic role and tradition of the Senate, leave Gorsuch confirmed as a tainted justice in the eyes of many Americans and create doubts about the legitimacy of the Supreme Court among many citizens.
America is governed by a highly unpopular president, elected with support from a Russian dictator and a House of Representatives that is no longer trusted to fairly investigate the integrity of his election. To destroy the unique stature and historic role of the Senate in a way that undermines its legitimacy, through parliamentary abuses that create doubts about the legitimacy of future Supreme Court majorities, would leave the legitimacy of every branch of government tarnished in the eyes of many Americans.
Under the compromise I propose here, Democrats would maintain the protection of cloture rules for the next Trump Supreme Court nomination, if there is one, and for first principle priorities such as defending the widely respected Planned Parenthood against partisan attacks that further abuse Senate rules.
Senators should not destroy a great institution that has served our country brilliantly for more than two centuries. If they do, future generations will condemn their actions for the next two centuries.
Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), then-chief deputy majority whip of the House. He holds an LL.M. in international financial law from the London School of Economics. He can be read on The Hill’s Contributors blog and reached at email@example.com.
The views expressed by this author are their own and are not the views of The Hill.