This article originally appeared in USA Today.
It’s time for the sweet resistance we’re seeing in the streets to start showing up in the U.S. Senate.
Democrats in the chamber have the votes to hold up exactly one major appointment from President Trump without any Republican help. And they should fight Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court with every vote they’ve got — even if it means ending the ability to filibuster any high-court nominations in the future.
They have no other choice.
This is an appointment by the biggest popular vote loser of the modern era to fill a stolen seat. Pretending this is just Senate business as usual would pat the Republican Party on the head for pulling off the heist of the century, and it would give Trump a thumbs up for his first-week “shock and awe” campaign of executive orders designed to roll back immigration, the Affordable Care Act, and voting rights.
It would also show that the elected left has learned nothing in the past eight years.
President Obama was the first candidate since President Eisenhower to win 51 percent of the popular vote twice. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s cynical decision to deny Obama the right to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat was mustache-twirlingly brilliant.
This scheme helped casino mogul Trump win a larger share of the white evangelical vote than any Republican nominee since 2004 — despite his three marriages, obvious unfamiliarity with the Bible, and tape-recorded boasts about how his fame was all the consent he needed to grope women’s private parts. With “Mr. Evangelical” Mike Pence on the ticket as a walking reminder of the Supreme Court vacancy, the right seized on the chance to maintain their narrow majority and expand upon it.
Yes, blocking Gorsuch would likely be just a symbolic gesture, given that his bona fides as a fairly typical right-wing jurist will likely see him confirmed, possibly with even a few Democratic votes.
So is it worth losing the filibuster, with its supermajority requirement, over him? After all, three of the five justices who keep Roe v. Wade alive are about a decade older than the Golden Girls during their last season on NBC. And if the vacancy helped Trump win, wouldn’t it be a bad idea to focus on this, given that nine of the 10 swing state Senate elections in 2018 take place in states Trump won?
Now you’re thinking like a Democrat.
Taking the high road, expecting that the flames shooting off Republicans’ burning bridges would finally catch up with them, is how we ended up in this mess that cost America its best hope of a progressive Supreme Court in more than 40 years. Face it: All forms of the filibuster are dead as soon as either party needs them to be.
Republicans clearly understood the stakes of the 2016 election. Now the rest of America is starting to get it, possibly because things such as travel bans and the prospect of millions losing insurance have to be experienced to be believed.
Roe v. Wade is an extraordinarily popular ruling. It’s almost as popular as Trump and Pence put together, with seven out of 10 Americans backing it in a recent Quinnipiac poll. And the institution that best reflects the physical incarnation of that decision — Planned Parenthood — is nearly as popular. Those who support continuing funding the reproductive health care non-profit outnumber those who don’t, 2-to-1.
Even if Democrats sat out 2018, the midterm elections will largely be about these two issues for the right, as they have been for at least a decade. So let’s stop shying away from a fight we can win.
The GOP has set norms afire to inflict minority rule on the nation and enable Trump’s blistering overreach. The Gorsuch filibuster has to be just the beginning of the effort to finally battle the Republican fire with the fire these crises warrant.
Democrats need to do everything they can to stop Trump’s agenda, and their best tools for that are the courts — and the Senate, which has tools of obstruction that Democrats have not begun to explore. Staring down Trump in the Senate over and over would focus the nation on Capitol Hill and reflect the extraordinary angst that’s got millions marching in less than two weeks of Trump rule.
Republicans have spent decades weaponizing the Supreme Court as a political tool and are on the brink of a payoff that Trump’s creditors never could have imagined. But they also did something dangerous: They proved there is no price for creative obstruction.
Democrats need to understand they have the people on their side. And to keep them there, they have to be willing to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous obstruction. Our democracy depends on it.
IMAGE: Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch meets with Senator Cory Gardner (R-CO) on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., February 1, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts