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The nuclear option

Liz Kacher, Staff Writer

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We are inching closer to the confirmation hearing of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, and I’m really disappointed the Senate Democrats insist on making this process difficult. He’s a federal judge who is highly qualified for the position he is waiting to be confirmed for.

Back in February, I applauded President Trump’s choice to appoint Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. He will be taking the seat of the late Antonin Scalia, a conservative judge appointed by Ronald Reagan in 1986. He passed away in 2016, and a central promise from President Trump was to appoint someone that would be just as powerful in the Supreme Court as Justice Scalia.

When President Trump had appointed Judge Gorsuch, he told Mitch McConnell to ‘go nuclear.’ However, it definitely isn’t the first time the nuclear option has been considered or even executed. It’s time to heed President Trump’s advice and get past the Senate Democrats who insist on filibustering his confirmation.

For those of you who don’t know what the “nuclear option” is, it refers to any plan to change Senate rules without the support of a supermajority. The Wikipedia page about the nuclear option describes it as, “a process to alter Senate rules by the exercise of the constitutionally granted right that the Senate can change its rules notwithstanding any existing rule or law to the contrary.”

On Monday, Sean Hannity brought up a valid point about the democrat’s hypocrisy in the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch, and the choice to use the “nuclear option.” He noted how in 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid invoked the nuclear option, and Senate Democrats were happily behind Reid’s decision.

Invoking the long-threatened nuclear option meant most of President Barack Obama’s judicial and executive branch nominees no longer needed to clear a 60-vote threshold to reach the Senate floor and get an up-or-down vote.

“We’d much prefer the risk of up or down votes and majority rule than the risk of continued total obstruction,” Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said on Nov. 21, 2013. “That’s the bottom line, no matter who’s in power.

Republicans’ attempts to block three consecutive nominees to a powerful appellate court was just too much for Democrats to handle, and so Reid felt compelled to pull the trigger, explaining that “this is the way it has to be.” Back in 2013, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. even addressed Republicans’ attempts to block Obama’s nominees with a filibuster.

“We need to call out these filibusters for what they are, naked attempts to nullify the results of the last presidential election,” she said. “If Republicans continue to filibuster these highly qualified nominees for no reason other than to nullify the president’s constitutional authority, then senators not only have the right to change the filibuster rules, senators have a duty to change the filibuster rules.”

Since the time the nuclear option was invoked in 2013, Sen. Chuck Schumer has become the Senate Minority Leader. He’s had a complete change of heart about the nuclear option, which he now opposes.

“To my Republican friends who think that if Judge Gorsuch fails to reach 60 votes, we ought to change the rules, I say if this nominee cannot earn 60 votes, a bar met by each of President Obama’s nominees and George Bush’s last two nominees, the answer isn’t to change the rules,” Schumer said. “It’s to change the nominee.”

Back when they had control of the Senate and former president Obama was in the White House, they had absolutely no problem supporting the “nuclear option.” Republicans are now in power, controlling both the White House and the Senate, and the Democrats have decided that now is the time when the nuclear option is considered a problem.

What some people fail to remember, all politicians use power to advance their agenda. “Power” is defined as the “ability to do or act” and having the “capability of doing or accomplishing something.” As long as Republicans have the majority, they should consider using their power.

The tables have officially turned, since Republicans are in control of the Senate and the White House, and despite the confirmation of Judge Gorsuch hanging in the balance, the hypocrisy of Senate Democrats is becoming blatantly obvious, and I hope everyone else sees that too.

Liz Kacher is a staff writer for   The Dakota Student. She can be reached at  mary.kacher@und.edu.com

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The nuclear option