The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Thursday January 20th

Trump picks SCOTUS nominee, opposition prepares filibuster

Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge in Denver, practices strict interpretation of the U.S. Constitution. His policy preferences mirror those of Justice Antonin Scalia — whose death last year left the seat vacant, said Kevin McGuire, UNC political science professor.

“That won’t change the ideological lineup of the court in any significant way,” he said.

Scott de Marchi, a Duke University political science professor, said Gorsuch — or a similar judge — would have likely been any elected Republican president’s pick.

“This is what you were going to get if the Republicans won the White House,” de Marchi said.

U.S. Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer, D-NY, indicated his party will demand a supermajority of 60 votes to confirm the nominee — likely resulting in a Democratic filibuster.

The move comes after Republican senators filibustered former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, until the end of his term.

“On a subject as important as a Supreme Court nomination, bipartisan support should be a prerequisite. It should be essential. That’s what 60 votes does,” Schumer said in a speech Wednesday on the Senate floor.

De Marchi said the Democrats could stall the nomination until 2020.

“The great thing about (the process) is that, unless you choose the nuclear option for 10 months — we just saw someone essentially do that with the Obama nominee — or you could filibuster for four years, which the Democrats could, and probably should, do,” he said.

The nuclear option senate Republicans now have available permits the majority party to override filibusters without a supermajority.

Trump backed the option Wednesday, urging Republicans to do the same.

De Marchi warned the president against forgoing the usual legislative process.

“In the Senate, one of the things that people count on is that, to do anything consequential, you need a supermajority,” de Marchi said. “To the extent that Trump wants to get rid of the filibuster completely for Supreme Court nominees to get a short term objective ... he’s not looking downstream as to what this means for the rest of the history of the Senate.”

He said Democrats have triggered the option before — going nuclear in 2013 when Republicans delayed Obama’s lower court nominees and executive appointments.

If Republicans terminate the opposing filibuster, McGuire said he is unsure of potential consequences.

“The irony of it is that we are going to need a longer time period to understand what the consequences are,” McGuire said. “It’s sort of like asking someone to make a prediction of what Obama’s presidency would have resulted in after only 11 days.”

state@dailytarheel.com



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