For many, the stakes for the nomination of Neil Gorsuch are pretty high, especially in that, at 49 years of age, it is not impossible to imagine Mr. Gorsuch sitting on the Supreme Court for decades. Furthermore, Gorsuch’s nomination represents decades of increasing polarization in D.C., not just in the judiciary, but also politics in general.
It would be easy to blame President Trump’s unpopularity among Democrats as the sole reason for Gorsuch’s contentious nomination process, but, as anyone paying even a modicum of attention knows, our political system has been headed this way for a long time. Despite Mr. Gorsuch’s experience, expertise and temperament, many Democrats would rather vote no than be thought of as too supportive of Donald Trump.
Here is a “primer” from our friend Bob Levy of the Cato Institute on the nuclear option and the unexpected gift that Harry Reid and fellow Democrats handed to the GOP.
The gripe against the filibuster is that it’s undemocratic because it stifles majority rule. That misses the point. We are a republic, not a democracy, and our Constitution is intentionally undemocratic. The Framers were concerned about tyranny by the majority. Recent majorities, on both sides of the aisle, have proven that those concerns are justified. Majority parties have killed bills in committee, refused floor votes, and blocked amendments – essentially denying the minority any meaningful role. The filibuster is a partial counterweight to those problems.
Furthermore, the Framers wrote a Constitution replete with protections that limit majority rule. To name just a few: we have limited and enumerated federal powers, two senators from each state, the electoral college, and the Bill of Rights. And note that the Constitution requires a 2/3 vote to propose constitutional amendments, override vetoes, approve treaties, impeach the president, and expel a congressman. The filibuster’s supermajority requirement may be undemocratic, but that’s precisely why we have it.
Read more from Robert A. Levy here.