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Sen. Jeanne Shaheen Calls for a Hearing and Up or Down Vote on Neil Gorsuch

By  |  February 8, 2017, 08:31am  |  @ewerickson

The Democratic ranks are starting to buckle. Senator Jeanne Shaheen may not vote for Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, but on the floor of the Senate she has gone on record saying he deserves a hearing and an “up or down vote.” This puts Shaheen as one of the first Democrats in the Senate on record for that.

Many of the Democrats had privately been conceding as much, but they were trying to hold the line in the face of leftwing pressure. That is going to collapse now. On top of that, Shaheen’s statement is important because it is signaling the Democrats walking away from a planned filibuster.

The conventional wisdom in Washington is that Anthony Kennedy might really step down and the Democrats will want to appear reasonable trading Scalia for Gorsuch so they can be obstructionist on Kennedy — not that it will matter. McConnell is prepared to blow up the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees. A caveat on this Kennedy business is that this was the conventional wisdom during the Obama Administration for Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Didn’t work out that way.

In any event, expect more Democrats to take Shaheen’s stance and expect extraordinary pressure from the left for her to walk it back. She’s really going to define herself as an independent thinker or lemming by how she responds to that pressure.