MADISON, Wis. – While the media at large went nuclear on the “nuclear option” descriptor Thursday, Wisconsin’s senators defended – from their perspectives – what was and what’s expected to be in the Judge Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court nomination saga.
Looking to quickly break an unprecedented Democrat filibuster, Senate Republicans voted to lower the 60-vote threshold to a simple majority to forward President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee.
Dems were apoplectic, blasting the GOP for changing the way the more deliberative Senate traditionally does business; in essence, checking the minority party’s ability to stall. The so-called “nuclear option” is precisely what Democrats in 2013 sought and used to advance President Barack Obama’s executive and lower court judicial nominees in recent years. But the option was thought to be off limits for Supreme Court nominees.
Republicans had had enough, and moved to end the first-ever partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee just as it was getting started.
“This is the latest escalation in the left’s never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky. “And it cannot and will not stand. There cannot be two sets of standards: one for nominees of the Democratic president and another for the nominees of Republican presidents.”
Minority Leader, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, who lead the opposition movement, said the responsibility for changing the rules will fall on Republicans’ shoulders.
“They had other choices,” he said. “They have chosen this one.”
A final confirmation vote on the nominee is set for Friday.
Gorsuch, a widely respected appeals court judge for the 10th Circuit, is expected to fill the seat vacated more than a year ago by the death of conservative stalwart Justice Antonin Scalia.
Here’s what Wisconsin’s U.S. senators had to say about the political smoke and fire inside and outside the Senate chamber.
Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison:
“The people of Wisconsin want an impartial and independent Supreme Court justice who will make decisions that protect the constitutional rights and freedoms of all Americans – not stand for corporate special interests. I have deep concerns about Judge Gorsuch’s troubling record of ruling against disabled students, including a ruling that was so far out of the mainstream the Supreme Court unanimously overturned it, as well has his rulings against workers and against women’s reproductive health care. I also believe that we must have a Supreme Court justice who will serve as a check on the Executive Branch. Based on his record and the many questions he has chosen to leave unanswered, I don’t have confidence Judge Gorsuch would be that justice and I oppose his confirmation to our highest court.”
Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Oshkosh:
“Judge Gorsuch is a highly qualified, mainstream judge who will apply the law, not act as a superlegislator. He is exactly the kind of high integrity jurist needed on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, most Democrat senators, including Senator Baldwin, attempted to obstruct the will of American and Wisconsin.”