THE NUCLEAR OPTION
There has been a lot of discussion about Republicans in the U.S. Senate using what is called the “nuclear option” to get an outstanding nominee Neil Gorsuch appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court. This was needed to overcome the “cloture” rule that requires 60 Senators to vote to allow a Supreme Court nominee to even be voted on by the Senate. Unfortunately, the same rule also applies to most of all regular legislation brought before the Senate including those laws passed by the House of Representatives.
The U.S. Constitution provides for bills to be adopted, and nominees to be onfirmed by a majority vote in the Senate with the Vice President casting the deciding vote if the Senate is evenly split. The Senate is also allowed to set its own rules but there is nothing indicating that they can override the majority vote requirement, yet that is what the Senate did that in 1917 when it adopted a two thirds vote cloture rule. That proved to be a disaster since the overwhelming majority was virtually never reached, despite the fact that in those days members of the Senate were patriots and would vote for legislation that was good for the country not just their political party.
Yet, there was still gridlock in many cases so in 1975 the Senate changed its rules to set the current 60 vote threshold. Both parties used it to their advantage when the other party controlled the Senate. Then the Democrats under Harry Reid decided in 2013 to get rid of the cloture rule when it came to Obama nominated federal judges at the district and appellate level that were being blocked by Republicans because of many of the nominees far left leanings. The Senate democrats were all on board with this change and Chuck Schumer was particularly enthusiastic.
However, now that the Republicans have taken a page from the Democrat playbook and invoked the nuclear option to get Neil Gorsuch confirmed to the Supreme Court, Schumer and many other Democrats are absolutely hysterical. It seems that the cloture rule should only apply to Republicans, not to the Democrat elitists who consider themselves above the law. They are adamantly opposed to Judge Gorsuch because he believes in the Constitution that Democrats generally view as an archaic document that is getting in the way of their game plan to destroy our constitutional republic and create a “socialist paradise” in its place.
However, while I fully support use of the nuclear option to confirm Judge Gorsuch; as a constitutional lawyer I have a problem with the entire cloture rule. I believe it is unconstitutional and should be entirely abolished by the Senate. The fact is that the cloture rule dilutes my vote and those of all other Americans who vote for Senators. Instead of having my Senators effectively represent me by voting to pass or defeat legislation by a majority vote, as provided in the Constitution, their votes are often meaningless.
For example, I have been working for the last four years with veterans who are being arbitrarily denied their Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms. Eighteen months ago I also predicted that the same methods were going to be employed to disarm Social Security recipients, That has also come true and the House of Representatives has passed legislation to stop these abuses. However, initial indications are that Senate democrats will use the cloture rule to stop both of these bills from coming to the full Senate for a vote.
That will happen because under the cloture rule the two votes of the Senators in Texas that will represent me will be meaningless while the votes of the two Democrat senators from Massachusetts will count along with all other votes by Senate democrats. America’s heroes and our senior citizens will continue to be denied their constitutional rights. For this and other compelling reasons, it is imperative that we call on Republican senators to permanently abolish the 60 vote cloture rule and give us back our Constitution and the ability of Congress to act with majority votes of 51.
Michael Connelly blog