April 6, 2017 / Press Releases

MEMO: On a rules change, it’s the Republicans’ decision alone

To: Interested Parties
From: Kaylie Hanson Long, NARAL Pro-Choice America National Communications Director
Re: On a rules change, it’s the Republicans’ decision alone

As senators barrel towards the most contentious debate of the Trump administration, it’s clear Republicans face a historic choice: find the courage of their convictions and respect the institution of the Senate, or blow up on a straight party-line vote for Donald Trump, a president under active FBI investigation for potential ties to Russia.

Let’s be clear: the decision to blow up the Senate is squarely in the hands of Republicans, and Republicans alone. And it will be only Republican votes to change the rules.

Democrats have carefully examined the record of Judge Neil Gorsuch, and the reality of his worldview is disturbing. His cruel record of siding with corporations over the basic rights of women, workers, and LGBTQ Americans is troubling. Any senator who claims to stand on the side of working families and basic constitutional freedoms should not be voting to advance this nominee. Judge Gorsuch had an opportunity to clear up any outstanding questions during his hearings, but provided senators with nothing but evasive responses to their legitimate questions. Democrats are exercising their right to object to this nominee. Republicans can right this process by prompting President Trump to nominate a more mainstream candidate—someone who can earn the 60 votes traditionally required to become a Supreme Court justice.

But that’s in a reasonable world. And a reasonable world is not the world Republicans live in. Instead, they want to change the rules in the middle of the game, despite the fact that their constituents overwhelmingly oppose this tactic. Seven in 10 Americans strongly object to any GOP attempts to use political tactics to strong-arm Trump’s nominee through the confirmation process. They want to change the rules the way they changed them for Merrick Garland, blocking his nomination altogether. No one is forcing them to “go nuclear.” The choice to do so is theirs and theirs alone.

Importantly, let’s remember how we got here. Over the last 10 years, Republicans have intentionally poured millions of dollars into making this political process as messed up as possible. Republican betrayal of a senator’s constitutional duty with this rule change is the natural conclusion of this strategy.

Democrats are playing by the rules and not backing down. That’s a good thing.

CNN: But Senate Democrats have good reason to move forward with a filibuster. Indeed, this could turn out to be a defining moment for the party in its struggle against the Trump presidency. Simply in terms of principle, Democrats could rest assured that they would not be the party responsible for breaking the Supreme Court nomination process.


Democrats are often fearful of obstruction and don’t show the kind of temperament as their Republican counterparts. They should learn though, that taking a tough stand has its benefits politically. By denying this victory to the administration, they would hand President Trump a second major defeat at a moment of great vulnerability, while potentially further diminishing the confidence of Republicans who continue to stand by him.

NYT: Republicans have benefited from their partisan approach. They won’t stop just because Democrats ask nicely and submit to Gorsuch. Democrats are right to force McConnell to be the one who takes the partisan step of eliminating the Supreme Court filibuster.


Paeans to bipartisanship may sound good, but in this case they don’t ultimately promote bipartisanship. Right now, the status quo is working quite well for one of the two parties. The country won’t return to a less politicized judiciary until both parties have reason to want it.

Everyone should be able to decide if, when, how, and with whom they start or grow a family.

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