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Monday, April 23, 2018

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Republicans must stand tall in face of Trump’s call for nuclear option


The nuclear option is a complex procedure, used in times of duress, during which the ruling of the chair may be confirmed by a simple majority vote. It lays the opponents’ appeal on the table and reinterprets the rules.

The appeal process in this case is the filibuster for the nomination of Neil Gorsuch as a Supreme Court justice where the majority vote would replace the 60-vote supermajority required to stop a filibuster.

President Donald Trump recently encouraged Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, to employ the nuclear option to ensure that Gorsuch gets confirmed. McConnell, a career politician, has been in the Senate for almost thirty years and has reversed his position on plenty of issues in the past, similar to many others.

It is difficult to deny from an objective standpoint that both he and Gorsuch, however, are highly proficient in their field because of the amount of time they have spent in it.

Harry Reid changed the Senate rules by invoking the nuclear option in 2013 to pass through nominations to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit much to the dismay of many republicans. None of the appointees, however, were for the position of Supreme Court justice and the rule change did not apply to that level of the federal judicial branch.

Justice Antonin Scalia died almost a year ago and former president Barack Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland to fill the vacancy expired under McConnell’s refusal to hold a hearing, marking the longest pending nomination to the Supreme Court in history by more than twofold.

It was an expected political gambit, considering that Obama appointed two Supreme Court judges during his administration. Despite the questionable length of time, the nomination stagnated without a hearing as McConnell played the parliamentary game.

The legislative branch of the government will have far more incumbent Democrats than Republicans in the 2018 elections. Meanwhile, the ink has hardly dried on the nominations of cabinet members for Trump’s administration as far as the executive branch is concerned.

McConnell has already tried to usher hearings for the cabinet nominations despite current lamentations from the Government Ethics Office and his own push for ethical background examinations that he expressed in a letter to Reid in 2009. Basically, two of the branches of government aren’t looking like they’re going to lose Republican control for at least the next four years, and the judicial branch is pretty much split in half concerning partisan leanings.

Republicans, especially career politicians, should maintain the integrity of their party in the face of a president that many would consider an extremist. The Republican Party and all of its ideologies have the time and stability to rebuild its political sway on all levels of the government for the first time in years.

McConnell and Senate Republicans shouldn’t let something as important as the highest court of our nation and the appointment of the next life-tenured justice be subject to a caveat confirmation at the behest of President Trump.

The presidential office has a two term limit; Senators and House representatives may serve an unlimited number of terms. Therefore, only the legislative branch truly has the opportunity to have a long term approach in mind when it comes to this country like Supreme Court justices do. Do not invoke the nuclear option and open the floodgates for the laws of our land to be interpreted by anyone that a simple majority wants.

McConnell has waited for 294 days for Garland’s nomination to expire and has been in the game for over three decades. It is imperative that he does not act in haste. Let the process play out. He may not get Gorsuch but he’ll get his party’s judge soon enough. For the first time in a while, the ball is overwhelmingly in his court.

Opinion columnist Nicholas Bell is an MBA graduate student and can be reached at [email protected]

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