Fifteen-plus hours. That's how long a certain Democratic lawmaker from Oregon stood on the Senate floor to protest President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. And these tweets about Sen. Jeff Merkley holding the floor overnight prove that not all heroes wear capes.
Here's why the 15-hour filibuster happen: According to The Nation, Merkley and the rest of the Democratic Party believe the GOP stole the SCOTUS seat. Why? It goes back to Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia's untimely death last February. Former President Barack Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill Scalia's vacancy. But Senate Republicans blocked the nomination based on some obscure (re: non-existent) "rule" that neither party would confirm a SCOTUS nominee during an election year. According to NPR, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican from Kentucky, alleged at the time that the Senate's decision to not act on Garland's nomination was a matter of "principle." To that point, Senate Judiciary member John Cornyn, a Republican from Texas, said that "the only way to empower the American people ... is for the next President to make the nomination to fill this vacancy."
Fast forward to Tuesday night. Merkley said at the start of the hours-long filibuster that ended Wednesday morning,
By stealing a Supreme Court seat for the first time in American history, the Senate is undermining the Court and the rule of law, and turning the highest court in the land into a political committee. This assault on our democracy demands as robust a resistance as we can possibly mount.
The internet was here for it:
As the New York Times reported back in January, Republicans have stonewalled almost every move Obama had made during his two term in office. They became the "Party of No." But when you take the GOP's actions as a whole, blocking Garland's nomination seems like small potatoes. Just read this retrospective by the Daily Kos on how the Republicans behaved over the last eight years. This is the same party that shut down the government for more than two weeks in 2013 because they weren't getting what they wanted in the budget. This is the same party that's waged an all-out war on the Affordable Care Act, much to the determinant of their own supporters. And this is the same party that obstructed nearly every Obama-backed bill.
Trump and other Republicans tend to gloat about the failures of the Obama administration — failures that, as The Washington Post's Jonathan Capehart pointed out in 2012, they helped cause. But the GOP seems to have a selective memory; they're now chastising Democrats for running plays Republicans favored since 2008. According to The Hill, before Merkley's marathon session, McConnell warned Democrats to abandon their filibuster threat and "do the right thing" in confirming Gorsuch because "history will be watching." Social media users were quick to point out the hypocrisy:
What happens of Gorsuch's nomination has yet to be seen. The GOP has threatened to use the aptly-named "nuclear option." That means Republicans would change Senate rules in order to lower the vote threshold to allow for a simple-majority approval, according to the Los Angeles Times. Considering the GOP's history of obstructionism in Congress, the "nuclear option" will probably be deployed.
Still, Merkley's filibuster is significant. Democrats in Congress have finally started to take a page from the Republican's handbook, and conservatives can't seem to handle it. And if Democrats want to get anything done — by getting nothing done — they're going to have to continue to fight fire with fire.