NPR: Senate Confirms Gorsuch To Supreme Court

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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31 Responses

  1. Jesse says:

    Cool. The Constitution says nothing about there only being nine Justices.Report

      • Kazzy in reply to Burt Likko says:

        So we can reach a point where one-party rule can change that number and approve a justice, assuming the Senate is willing to abandon the legislative filibuster?Report

        • pillsy in reply to Kazzy says:


          Also, I’ll bet a dollar–maybe even five dollars–that the next time the Dems control Congress and the WH, the legislative filibuster is dead as hell.Report

        • Burt Likko in reply to Kazzy says:

          We’re there now. All the Republicans need to do is summon up the will to do it.Report

          • Pinky in reply to Burt Likko says:

            We’ve always been there.

            So much of our system is based on amity rather than law. We’ve been lucky that the stakes have rarely gotten higher than Senate parking spots.Report

            • Troublesome Frog in reply to Pinky says:

              This is true of most systems. It’s very hard to have a group of people working together based solely on written rules rather than a mix of rules and behavioral norms. And every senate session seems to strip away another healthy behavioral norm. The senate rules are clearly not written for a group of people with no regard for teamwork and fair play. If you play purely by the rules, everything goes to hell.

              Since we’re clearly on the track to a “purely by the rules” state of war and have been for some time, it makes sense to amend the rules so things can keep functioning once everything is a scorched earth battle with no weapons held in reserve. The filibuster is no longer a last resort tool to ensure that a minority isn’t heard. It’s a weapon that can be used at any time at minimal cost. So it definitely needed to go for critical appointments and will probably need to go for legislation before too much longer.Report

              • LeeEsq in reply to Troublesome Frog says:

                Even the most pure majoritarian parliamentary systems require a great deal of unwritten norms to function properly like members of the opposition acting as loyal opposition rather than getting into fist fights with the majority on the floor or using dirty propaganda tactics against the majority. Parliamentary democracies that end up with governing coalitions rather than a majority also have many unwritten norms to ensure that they work. The American system had the most norms.Report

        • Jesse in reply to Kazzy says:

          If RBG or Kennedy is replaced, my primary vote will depend on which candidate would support doing that.Report

    • notme in reply to Jesse says:

      It doesn’t say anything about those persons being lawyers, either.Report

      • Jesse in reply to notme says:

        I mean, maybe not non-lawyers, but I actually think it’s a bad thing that the current SC is only made up of lawyers from high ranking law schools who have gone through basically the same path. I don’t think it’d be a negative to have say, a career as a former public defense, legal aid lawyer, immigration lawyer, etc. Even somebody like Posner has agreed with this.Report

        • Pinky in reply to Jesse says:

          I remember when the leaked list of Trump’s top three candidates came out, I figured it would be Gorsuch. He was the only one from Harvard or Yale. The other two were like peasants or something (Tulane, Georgetown).Report

        • Saul Degraw in reply to Jesse says:


          RBG’s career was sort of like you described even though her education was highly elite. Breyer was basically an administrative lawyer for the Senate and a professor.

          But I suspect this is not going to happen in the immediate future and my lifetime. Bush tried to appoint someone from SMU Law and his own party revolted against him (though maybe because she was not a doctrinaire conservative).

          I think it goes to the very nature of “respectability” in the United States. People with the careers you mentioned might become State Supreme Court Judges or get to the Courts of Appeals but they don’t make the Supreme Court. Even the legal academy often considers plainitiff’s lawyers to be unacceptable candidates for professorships except maybe for the trial skills elective.Report

      • El Muneco in reply to notme says:

        OMG. Roger Goodell hasn’t necessarily reached the apogee of his career arc…Report

  2. Slade the Leveller says:

    I listened to the hearings, farcical as they were. I didn’t hear Gorsuch utter anything that made me think he was unqualified to sit on that bench. Do I care for his politics? No, but that isn’t supposed to be a disqualifying criterion. Time will tell what kind of justice he’ll be: a surprise like Warren, or drones like Alito and Thomas.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Slade the Leveller says:

      If I were on the Senate I’da supported the filibuster. Not because he isn’t qualified but because I just couldn’t take the thought of being subject to 30+ years of his dickish smugness.Report

      • Damon in reply to Stillwater says:

        I’d be pretty damn smug too, knowing I was a lock for the job as long as I didn’t screw up the at the hearings.

        He knew it, the Dems knew it, and everyone knew how this was going to go down.Report

    • Kazzy in reply to Slade the Leveller says:


      Did he do/say anything to show he was qualified?

      Are the hearings intended to qualify or disqualify? That seems to matter.Report

      • Slade the Leveller in reply to Kazzy says:

        @kazzy I believe the presumption is that he shows up qualified, and the hearings are supposed to ensure the President hasn’t sent someone supremely unqualified down.

        Truthfully, most nominees these days are already sitting federal judges, so they’ve all been before the Senate before. (Gorsuch got unanimous Senate approval for his appointment to the appellate court.)Their opinions and dissents, as well as public writings and speeches, are all public record. The hearings could probably be dispensed with altogether.

        Gorsuch was questioned for about 20 hours or so. He clerked for Byron White, and the story was told that his confirmation hearing took 90 minutes, which is probably about what it should take. Everyone knew the script for Gorsuch’s hearing: Dems trying to nail him down on abortion, and him declining to answer (respectfully, of course), and the Repubs telling him what a great guy he is, and the seat Scalia left for him would look right nice under his ass. The judiciary committee ought to be fired for stealing their paychecks.

        @stillwater The dickish smugness was a prerequisite for filling Scalia’s seat.Report

  3. Republicans change Senate rules to get their way. I’m shocked.Report

    • Damon in reply to Mike Schilling says:

      Majority makes the rules. I’m sure when the Dems obtain a majority, they’ll craft new, balanced rules that respect the minority.

      (I just snorted in derision while I wrote that last part…)Report