If hypocrisy was the coin of the realm, Washington, DC would be full of Scrooge McDucks swimming through pools of filthy lucre. Take, for example, one Richard Joseph “Dick” Durbin, Senator from the great state of Illinois and the ranking Democrat of that great institution just behind Chucky Schumer (NY, Slightly Less Funny Than His Cousin Amy). Durbin, you see, has decided after much careful thought and consideration–and a deluge of phone calls, texts and emails from the PACs that fund his campaign coffers, no doubt–that he cannot in good conscience allow the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to move forward:
I will vote no when Gorsuch comes before the Judiciary Cmte. I will vote no on cloture. I will oppose his nomination on the Senate floor.
— Senator Dick Durbin (@SenatorDurbin) March 28, 2017
This is the same Dick Durbin, mind you, who didn’t object to confirming Neil Gorsuch to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals back in 2006. Then again, when asked about it on Morning Joe, Durbin said he couldn’t even remember if he had voted “aye” or “nay” during that hearing, so maybe he thinks it’s a different Neil Gorsuch up for SCOTUS now. Or it could just be that Durbin is a puppet dancing at the end of strings held by his special interest masters.
Of one thing, however, there can be no doubt: these confirmation hearings are nothing but theater. Rather than debating the actual merits of a nominee, they only serve as opportunities for grandstanding. Durbin–like every other Democrat senator on the Judiciary Committee–isn’t interested in hearing any answers from Gorsuch. All they want to do is drag out the process as long as possible, using their question time for speechifying and hoping to draw an ounce of blood from the nominee. Their minds were made up before the hearings even began.
The Republicans, mind you, aren’t much better–but at least they understand that nominating Supreme Court justices is a presidential prerogative, even when the president is from an opposing party. There were enough GOP senators who broke ranks to assure the confirmation of both of Barack Obama’s SCOTUS nominees–and this was no accident. They understood the need to put up some resistance for the sake of their voting base, but in the end they made sure the votes were there for confirmation. Democrats, in typical fashion, don’t seem inclined to return the favor.
Which is well in good, I suppose. Republicans will be forced to nuke the Supreme Court filibuster, or face the wrath of voters in the 2018 mid-terms, and the nasty business of gumming up the works started by Harry Reid will finally be concluded. In the end, though, I’d really like to see a wholesale reform of the confirmation process. There’s no reason that senators can’t simply submit their questions to SCOTUS nominees in writing, and avoid the whole unseemly spectacle of confirmation hearings entirely.