Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013

Lee: Nuclear option justified after Dems used it in 2013
© Greg Nash

Sen. Mike LeeMichael (Mike) Shumway LeeEconomy adds just 235K jobs in August as delta hammers growth Lawmakers flooded with calls for help on Afghanistan exit Afghanistan fiasco proves we didn't leave soon enough MORE (R-Utah) says Democrats would have no room to complain if the GOP altered filibuster rules during Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation vote because they did the same thing in 2013.

Lee on Wednesday pointed to Senate Democrats’ 2013 move which ended filibusters on nearly all judicial nominees — except for the Supreme Court.

“There is not one argument advanced in justification for the Democratic Senate majority to go nuclear in November 2013 that doesn’t also apply with equal force throughout the executive calendar,” Lee said. “Not one argument they’ve made. That decision was made in November 2013.”  

ADVERTISEMENT

Democrats have signaled they plan to filibuster Gorsuch, which would force Republicans to find 60 votes to move ahead with the nomination. But Senate GOP leaders could invoke the so-called nuclear option, rewriting the chamber's rules and leaving Gorsuch in need of just 51 votes.

Lee said his party wouldn’t be doing anything Democrats didn’t already do in 2013.

“Once precedent has changed, precedent controls,” he said. “Precedent in effect trumps the rule when the precedent is inconsistent with the rule.”

Speaking from the steps of the Supreme Court, Lee and other GOP members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, including Chairman Chuck GrassleyChuck GrassleyGrassley calls for federal prosecutor to probe botched FBI Nassar investigation Woman allegedly abused by Nassar after he was reported to FBI: 'I should not be here' Democrat rips Justice for not appearing at US gymnastics hearing MORE (Iowa) and Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Tight security for Capitol rally; Biden agenda slows Trump offers sympathy for those charged with Jan. 6 offenses Lindsey Graham: Police need 'to take a firm line' with Sept. 18 rally attendees MORE (S.C.) and Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzMore than 10,000 migrants await processing under bridge in Texas Senators slow Biden with holds at Pentagon, State The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by National Industries for the Blind - Schumer: Dem unity will happen eventually; Newsom prevails MORE (Texas) chastised Democrats for their opposition to Gorsuch.

“He’s easily cleared every hurdle placed in front of him for this position,” Grassley said of President Trump’s nominee.

“It leaves me then very stunned why there’s this talk about a filibuster. It’s quite clear that if he isn’t qualified, then nobody is. If you’d be filibustering a judge like this, it’s obvious you’d filibuster anyone.”

Some Democrats are still outraged about Republicans' refusal to consider Merrick Garland, whom then-President Obama nominated to the high court after Justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016. 

Senate Republicans refused to hold hearings or a vote on Garland, insisting they wouldn’t act on any nominee until after the November presidential election. Their move paid off when President Trump won and nominated the more conservative Gorsuch this year.

The senators on Wednesday spoke as dueling activist groups chanted at each other. 

Anti-Gorsuch crowds chanted “Neil’s a bad deal” and “our right, our court.” And Gorsuch backers, dressed in judges’ robes, sang sang “for justice of the court, Neil’s fine” to the tune of “Get me to the Church on Time” from the musical “My Fair Lady.”