As an update to yesterday's post about the nuclear option paving the way for Neil Gorsuch to the SCOTUS bench, the news is that Senate Republicans have pushed the button. The Los Angeles Times calls it a "history-making showdown." It's known as the "nuclear option" for a reason: the longstanding precedent in Supreme Court nominations is to get a supermajority of 60 votes to break a filibuster, not a simple majority. So Gorsuch will be Justice Gorsuch very soon.
The Dems: 60 votes is our guardrail of democracy
The Times quotes Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer:
"The 60-bar vote in the Senate is the guardrail of our democracy. I am disheartened that we are here. And I worry a great deal about what that means for the future."
The GOP: We always come back
On the flipside is an irritated Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch, who doesn't appear to share Schumer's concerns, while acknowledging that the Senate is "broken":
"I've seen the Senate broken before and we always come back. Hopefully this won't cause too much consternation, but it really became very partisan - and it really irritated the daylights out of me."
What does this mean?
We cannot predict the long-term ramifications of changing the 60-vote rule when it comes to filibustered Supreme Court nominees, but the change does illustrate how the partisan divide has infected the judicial branch at the highest level.
SCOTUS is supposed to be above the fray.