What to do about Gorsuch: Democrats could obstruct, Republicans could go 'nuclear'

To obstruct, or not to obstruct? That is the question.
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With the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court, the question over what kind of fight Democrats will put up – and what Republicans will put up with – is already front and center.

Here's a look at where things might be going.

Minnesota's say

Supreme Court nominees are voted on by the U.S. Senate. Speaking for Minnesota in the matter are two Democrats: Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.

In fact, they're both on the Senate Judiciary Committee, meaning each will get a chance to question Gorsuch (as will the 18 other members of the committee).

Franken, in a statement after the Gorsuch nomination, said he'll be "closely examining ... Gorsuch's background."

Franken added he has "serious concerns" about Gorsuch's "judicial philosophy" on issues including justice, corporate accountability, workers' rights, and women's health.

Klobuchar hasn't publicly released a statement since Gorsuch's name came out. But on CBS This Morning Tuesday, she promised a thorough investigation of whoever was picked, saying that "at a hearing there’s going to be numerous questions about their views on issues and precedent and on respect for precedent."

If you want a rundown of Gorsuch – who he is, his past, his philosophies – this Politico story is valuable.

Filibustering and obstruction

The Senate needs a so-called "super majority" – that's 60 yea votes – to avoid a filibuster, which could effectively block Gorsuch being confirmed as a new Supreme Court Justice.

So with 52 seats right now, Republicans would need at least eight Democrats on their side to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

It should be noted that during the Obama presidency, Democrats blamed Republicans for simply obstructing everything Democrats tried to do, rather than seeking compromise. Including after Obama nominated Merrick Garland to the open spot on the Supreme Court that Gorsuch would fill.

Now Democrats are in line to be the obstructionists, and have already been disruptive in some matters. That's led to criticism from Republicans.

For example, Democrats this week boycotted committee votes on one of Trump's cabinet nominations, holding up a vote. Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch called it "the most pathetic thing," NPR reported.

Said Sen. Mitch McConnell, according to the Washington Post, about Democrats' actions this week: "It is time to get over the fact that they lost the election."

Some GOP lawmakers before the election said if Hillary Clinton won, they would do everything possible to stop any nominee she put forward, Salon writes.

So both parties have essentially taken the position of, it's OK to obstruct when we're not in power, but if the other side tries to do it that's not cool.

Possibly related: 75 percent of Americans recently said they aren't satisfied with how politics works.

So will Democrats try to block Gorsuch?

That's the big question right now.

According to CNN, the liberal base is fired up and would like to see that happen.

Many lawmakers have expressed distaste at the selection of Gorsuch ... but none have outwardly said they'll plan a filibuster and block his confirmation. Some have even said they won't join a Democratic filibuster, AOL reports.

CNN says the party recently has had conversations about how to handle the Supreme Court nominee, and it seems they might be leaning away from doing so.

Here's the logic, as laid out by Washington Post politics reporter Aaron Blake (a Minnesota native, by the way).

If Democrats push things here and block a confirmation, the Republicans might be tempted to try to do away with the filibuster option, Blake says. (Note: Democrats did away with some filibuster options in 2013.)

If Republicans opt for that "nuclear option," as it's referred to, that could mean the filibuster is gone forever (the nuclear option would change the rules to make it so only 51 votes are need to approve Guresch). If that happens, Democrats wouldn't have the option to use a super majority filibuster in future political battles, Blake explains.

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