This column by ACRU Fellow Ken Klukowski was published April 3, 2017 by Breitbart.
WASHINGTON,D.C. — Monday it became official that Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) has the necessary 41 senators publicly committed to filibuster Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court, meaning that now the future of the nation’s highest court hangs on Republicans getting 50 votes for the constitutional option.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. In conjunction with the committee vote on Gorsuch—who was recommended favorably to the Senate by a party-line 11-9 vote—Coons announced that he would join Schumer’s filibuster.
Coons is a liberal Democrat, but had previously signaled that he might consider some sort of negotiated outcome regarding the way forward for the high Court. So while his announcement was not unexpected, it was still vitally important.
With Coons, there are now 41 votes for a filibuster. It takes 60 votes to stop a filibuster in the 100-member Senate, so Coons became the magic number that puts Schumer over the top.
Under current Senate practice, that body’s rules are interpreted such that President Trump’s nomination of Gorsuch would now die, despite having a bipartisan majority of at least 55 senators who would vote for him if his confirmation comes to a final vote.
Now all eyes are on Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY), to see if he can keep enough of his 52 Republicans together to invoke the constitutional option, and restore the 200-year Senate practice of judicial nominees only requiring a simple majority vote to be confirmed to their lifetime appointments.