Colorado’s Senator Michael Bennet has announced that he will not support the Senate Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, but that his vote on the nomination itself will depend on whether Senate Republicans move to change the filibuster rules, in which case all bets are off.
Conveniently, Bennet’s announcement came just as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer claimed to have the needed 41 votes to sustain the filibuster.
Bennet has been under pressure here in Colorado to support Gorsuch’s nomination, for two obvious reasons – Gorsuch is unquestionably qualified for the Court, and he’s a fellow Coloradan. (In fact, Gorsuch’s childhood home is just a few blocks from where I live now.) This approach allows Bennet to maximize political posturing, while allowing others to do all the heavy lifting.
This is, perhaps, the most pointless partisan filibuster in all of history. Majority Leader McConnell has all but announced his intention to change the Senate rules to ditch the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations, the last remaining nomination filibuster permitted. In doing this, he is doing no more than Harry Reid intended that Chuck Schumer do, when the Democrats expected to retake the Senate and retain the White House back in November.
Bennet’s position allows him to pretend that he opposed the filibuster that forces McConnell’s hand, while knowing that other Democrats will carry that filibuster on without him. Then, he can avoid the question of Gorsuch’s merits by pretending to be outraged by the inevitable rules change.
It’s classic Bennet, who expressed doubts about the Iran deal, even playing on his own Jewish background, but then threw up his hands, shrugged, asked, “What can you do?” and voted to sustain the Senate Democrats’ filibuster of the resolution of disapproval, so as to avoid a recorded vote on the merits.
Bennet, always one to conserve political courage for another day, has stayed true to himself in his decision.