Apparently Sen. Donnelly is going to vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court seat left open when Justice Scalia died. There have been a lot of takes: Donnelly is a genius, Donnelly is going to get crushed, Democrats are taking the high road and will surely be rewarded. Anyway, here’s mine:
Judge Gorsuch seems perfectly competent but right wing. If George W. Bush had nominated him or if Justice Scalia’s seat had opened up during a Republican administration, there would be no controversy. But, it’s hard to escape the feeling that Senate Republicans are being rewarded for bad behavior. Their refusal to act on the nomination of Merrick Garland is the elephant in the room here, so to speak. That’s what puts Donnelly in a lose-lose position.
If he stands with a filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, the Senate probably changes its rules and confirms him with 51 votes. The idea that Sen. Donnelly and the Democrats will successfully filibuster Gorsuch until Trump nominates someone more palatable seems unlikely. On the other hand, I think it’s pie-in-the-sky to think many people are going to reward Sen. Donnelly or the Senate Democrats for not being obstructionists. On the conservative side, those voters who would be likely to vote against Sen. Donnelly based on filibustering Gorsuch aren’t likely to vote for him based on his favorable Gorsuch vote. Meanwhile, liberals are angry because the Senate Republicans obstructed President Obama’s nomination and because the Trump administration is just horrible overall. Even if Sen. Donnelly’s vote is only conceding the inevitable, they will see it as a sign that Sen. Donnelly isn’t really on their side.
Ultimately, Sen. Donnelly is a Democratic Senator in a red state. He’s making a political calculation on what will hurt him less. I think it was a coin toss for him.
Time was senators only voted against a nominee unless they were unqualified to be a Supreme Court justice regardless of their views. I find it ironic that’s one of the reasons Lugar was voted out of office, and Donnelly has taken the same position.
As much sturm and drang as I’ve heard lately about a “constitutional convention”, the only real reason I’ve seen to amend the Constitution lately is to handle the case of how to handle a branch of government choosing to not perform the duties they’re elected to do. For instance – a presidential nominee that the Senate is supposed to confirm … is appointed to the position automatically if the Senate refuses to take action after some period of time.
“I think it was a coin toss for him.”
I see it differently. I think Donnelly voting no hurts him more.
As mentioned, he’s going to be a target in 2018 regardless of the vote. And there aren’t enough Democrats in Indiana to cater to.
What got him elected in the first place was being sane compared to Republican opposition that was, well, crazy pants.
Given Hoosiers won’t be turning out to vote against Hillary, being sane seems like as good a strategy as any. The probability of Indiana voters selecting a crazy pants Republican candidate, given the rumored choices, seems high.
As I see it it’s most likely going to be Todd Rokita or Luke Messer v Joe Donnelly.
Pretty big stakes. I’m going all in on getting young people registered to vote and I’ve already started.
Manfred James says
Donnelly is a Democrat. He should be appealing to Democrats if he wants to be reelected. The Republicans are coming for his seat, regardless.