What others say: Ending filibuster risks further system corrosion

  • By Denver Post editorial
  • Thursday, April 6, 2017 12:56pm
  • Opinion

Even before fortune smiled on Neil Gorsuch, when he remained but a possible pick to the Supreme Court and not the nominee, we argued for his candidacy. No doubt, the fact that the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge is a native Coloradan — and a double black diamond skier, to boot — has played an outsized role in our support. The highest court in the land could use a Coloradan.

Such well-meaning provincialism aside, we have sincerely argued for his many other fine qualities that have more to do with the job he would be assuming. Gorsuch is a fine legal mind of sound and agreeable temperament with a mainstream appellate record. Trump could’ve done a lot worse. A raft of legal professionals in our state from both sides of the political spectrum have come out convincingly in singing his praises. While we don’t agree with all of his opinions, we’re willing to look past that and would trust him with the car keys.

All that said, we would be willing to lose this incredible opportunity if it meant stopping the significant and dangerous rule change in the Senate that Republicans are threatening. Forever ending the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees would launch the chamber on a journey destined to stoke partisanship and gridlock in Congress that reasonable people are and should be sick to death of.

Sure, the longtime Senate filibuster rule isn’t in the Constitution. Neither is any requirement as to the number of judges on the court. But the filibuster has kept the Senate a more deliberative body. Ending it now risks further erosion of our system of checks and balances.

Senate Democrats ought to stop their foolish revenge plot now. They and their allies have made it resoundingly clear that there is no Trump nominee the party would support. We doubt Gandhi would be good enough. While their overzealous resistance speaks volumes about the president’s abilities in coalition-building, it also will leave Democrats with little ground to stand on for future claims of bipartisanship and statesmanship.

This week we have supported Colorado’s senior senator, Michael Bennet, for opposing the ill-conceived filibuster his party has nevertheless officially embraced. Yes, critics argue Bennet is late to the big show, and call his tardy commitment to statesmanship evidence of spinelessness. We agree he should have been active on the question sooner, but resist the idea his stance this week is merely political cover. If you don’t buy that, remember to tell the campaign aides the senator hires to ward off the Bernie Sanders wannabes who line up to primary him six years hence.

Republicans, meanwhile, ought to do right by Senate tradition and the nation and step away from their rule change.

Democrats were wrong in 2013 when they ended the filibuster for lesser judicial nominees. Republicans were wrong to block President Barack Obama’s pick of Merrick Garland even from consideration all last year.

Both sides are getting awfully lame with their extremism.

Better to have an eight-member high court until cooler heads prevail.

— The Denver Post,

April 4

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