“Strategic Debate in Gorsuch Battle: Use Filibuster Now or Later?”

Charlie Savage in the NYT:

The conventional political narrative as Judge Neil M. Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination nears its endgame is that liberals want at least 40 Senate Democrats to follow through on their threat to stall him with a filibuster, daring Republicans to carry out their vow to change the chamber’s rules and confirm him anyway. Conservatives, meanwhile, are outraged — outraged! — that Democrats might precipitate such a crisis.

But some observers on both sides of the ideological divide say that the long-term strategic interests of each faction are the opposite of what their leaders are indicating in public. If so, the surface appearance of the partisan fight unfolding this week is really a tricky inversion of what is actually in play…..

And with the minority leader, Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, publicly calling on colleagues to filibuster Judge Gorsuch, any Democratic senators who break ranks do so at personal political risk. Against that backdrop, it appeared as of Monday that enough Democratic senators would support a filibuster to set up the showdown conservatives like Mr. Whelan crave and liberals like Mr. Hasen fear would be a mistake.

“It’s still a long shot, but you only get one chance to make a lot of noise about the demise of the filibuster and to try to preserve a mechanism that gives the minority some degree of veto power,” Mr. Hasen said. “It seems like it would be worth holding it for when it would likely matter much, much more. But Democrats seem to feel like they need to please their base and go on a suicide mission now.”

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