Senate Democrats have two choices: Become everything they have slammed or accept that Neil Gorsuch probably is exceedingly qualified for the U.S. Supreme Court and deserves an up-or-down vote.
The Democratic base is seething by what it perceives as a "stolen" Supreme Court seat. Iowa's Chuck Grassley, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, personally used the late Antonin Scalia's seat as a political weapon when he blocked President Barack Obama's pick and stoked fears of "activist judges" among conservatives.
Grassley, and too many congressional Republicans to count, acted in ways that undermined the system through partisan arational governance.
Senate Democrats, including Illinois' Dick Durbin and Tammy Duckworth, should reject that model, if the good of the country is the primary goal. Anything less would would promulgate a vicious cycle of tit-for-tat that undermines the system.
Justice Neil Gorsch is no Betsy DeVos. Opposing him at all cost would be a waste of the filibuster and could have ramifications far beyond one Supreme Court justice.
It's easy to argue that the GOP was successful in its years of intransigence aimed at the Obama administration. Disdain for the president was rampant. Trumped up investigations of Hillary Clinton hamstrung her presidential bid. Republicans now completely dominate half the country's statehouses.
And Donald Trump's troublesome, abnormal approach to government has, so far, stoked passions that could, come mid-terms, serve Democrats well.
But an all-out assault on every Trump appointment would be another foray into political tribalism. It's been a long time since the Senate actually acted as the world's premier "deliberative body." Nonstop warfare from the Democratic minority — a new party of "no" — would only extend that shameful history.
Voting "no" on Gorsuch's nomination is one thing. An outright refusal to bring the nomination to the floor for a vote is another. It would be just another direct partisan attack on the very parliamentary norms that stabilize Congress.
Gorsuch is very much a conservative jurist, says a reading of his decisions on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Gorsuch's backers on the right consider him the ideal replacement for Scalia, whose death cost the right one of its most pre-eminent legal minds. And yes, he's likely to defend prejudice against the LGBTQ community. He's likely to support First Amendment rights for corporations.
None of that should come as a surprise. Elections have consequences, however. Trump won.
At the very least, Gorsuch is exceedingly qualified. His resume is long and distinguished. His writing is clear and thoughtful.
One mustn't condone his politics to recognize his qualifications. The resume alone should propel Gorsuch's name to the floor for a full vote.
That can't be said of all of Trump's nominees. Would-be Education Secretary DeVos is up for the job only because she's sent millions to Republican causes. Her misunderstanding of basic educational policy displayed during her Senate testimony was laughable. At least two Republicans in the Senate have said they won't support DeVos, putting her candidacy in real jeopardy.
But then you have picks such as Gorsuch. This week, Democrats refused to attend of hearings for secretary of state nominee Rex Tillerson and attorney general nominee Jeff Sessions. Neither man is without objection, yet not even showing up is the lowest form of minority protest.
Democrats on the Judiciary Committee will have their shot at Gorsuch. He should be grilled on his past positions. He should be held to account. But Trump already is pushing Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to do away with the 60-vote threshold, a move called the "nuclear option." McConnell and Grassley don't want to talk about such a move. But it's a likely outcome should Democrats refuse to even give Gorsuch a vote.
And that result would render Senate Democrats completely out in the cold.