Tweets from Donald Trump have a tendency to not age well. In 2013, citizen Trump complained about Senate Democrats ending the filibuster for presidential appointments of judges to federal courts (although they maintained the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations).
The filibuster is a procedural move in which 41 or more senators can stop a vote from taking place, ultimately blocking the measure from passing. Once a measure goes to a vote, a full 51 votes are needed to stop the measure from passing.
When Harry Reid (D-NV), then the Senate Majority Leader, moved to end the filibuster for federal judgeships, it followed an unprecedented period of Republican obstructionism. During Obama’s first four years in office, Republicans blocked 82 presidential nominees. To put this in perspective, over the previous 220 years of American democracy which encompassed 43 presidencies, a grand total of 68 nominees had been blocked.
Reid reacted in desperation to the unjust, unprecedented refusal by Republican senators to uphold their constitutional duty to confirm qualified presidential appointments. Republicans, who relished in their anti-American obstructionism, made a big display of outrage when Reid ended their filibuster antics.
Today’s ending of the filibuster to force through Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch takes place under entirely different circumstances.
In February 2016, Obama appointed the eminently qualified centrist Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. Obstructionist Republicans again refused to carry out their constitutional duties and refused to even give Garland a hearing.
In April 2017, Democrats engaged in the first filibuster of Trump’s presidential term to protest the unjust attempt to fill Merrick Garland’s seat with the ultra conservative Gorsuch. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) immediately destroyed the filibuster.
The asymmetry between the two decisions is outrageous. Republicans will try to pass this off as Democrats getting their comeuppance, but this spin couldn’t be further from the truth. It’s just another example of Republicans overturning precedents of good governance to fulfill partisan goals at the expense of American democracy.
Marisa completed her undergraduate degree in 2013 at the University of Wisconsin with a double major in creative writing and media studies. She is an advocate of progressive policies and focuses her interests on gender equality and preventing sexual and domestic violence.