Following Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement from the highest court in the land, Republicans will surely have the votes necessary to confirm a new Supreme Court Justice, no matter how much Democrats resist. With 51 seats in the Senate, Republicans have the majority required to confirm any replacement they’d like.
It didn’t always use to be this way. In fact, it was a Democratic action that brought us to the removal of the supermajority requirements needed to confirm presidential appointees.
In 2013, Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid was the first to change the supermajority requirements. In a move dubbed the “nuclear option,” Reid changes Senate rules from requiring the 60-vote supermajority to confirm appointees to a simple 50-vote majority.
“It’s a sad day in the history of the Senate,” Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., told reporters back in 2013, calling the move a Democratic “power grab.”
Reid tweeted the following after the success of the fillibuster rule change:
Thanks to all of you who encouraged me to consider filibuster reform. It had to be done.
— Senator Harry Reid (@SenatorReid) November 21, 2013
But McConnell and other Republicans, who were the minority in the Senate at the time, lectured Democrats that they did not know what it means to be in the minority and they would regret the decision.
“Democrats won’t be in power in perpetuity,” said Sen. Richard C. Shelby, R-Ala., a 27-year member in 2013. “This is a mistake — a big one for the long run. Maybe not for the short run. Short-term gains, but I think it changes the Senate tremendously in a bad way.”
Reid’s nuclear option move was used to allow then-President Obama to stack the D.C. court with liberal justices.
Now, it’s the Supreme Court on the line.
Mitch McConnell told Reid at the time, “You’ll regret this sooner than you think.”
Boy, was he right.