In the current media paranoia about the impending destruction of the Republic by Senate GOP leadership, it is helpful to remember that it was Democrats under the leadership of Harry Reid in 2013 that first used the tactic of eliminating a filibuster. They used it to clear the way for three appointments to the DC Federal Circuit by President Obama. Those appointments seriously tilted that particular circuit to the left, and that is the circuit that considers challenges in all cases of Congressional legislation.
In 2013, Senator Reid said that the “American people believe the Senate is broken, and I agree with the American people.” Based on that claim, Mr. Reid led the way to eliminate the required 60 vote majority to end debate on most Senate matters. Remember, it is not about requiring 60 votes to approve a nominee, that has always been 51 to approve anything except Constitutional amendments. The “filibuster rule” has been used by the Senate to allow some power to a minority Party throughout American Constitutional history.
The rule change forced through along party lines in 2013 eliminates the use of filibuster on Presidential appointments, but interestingly excludes SCOTUS nominees. This exception is now used by Democrats to pronounce the coming of Armageddon if the GOP employs this change in the case of the Neil Gorsuch nomination. Why did Democrats exclude the SCOTUS positions from their rule change back in 2013?
The reasoning is fairly transparent . Given the age of the current SCOTUS Justices, it is likely that at least two, and perhaps as many as four appointments will be made in the next few years. If the unthinkable happened, and Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 Presidential race, Democrats were hedging their bets by retaining the right to filibuster SCOTUS nominees by a Republican President.
The fact is, not once in 238 years has a nominee to the Supreme Court been filibustered by a minority Party. President Clinton made two very controversial nominations (Breyer, Ginsberg) but the minority GOP did not filibuster. President Obama has made to very liberal appointments (Sotomayor, Kagan) but again, they were not subject to a filibuster. Even back in the Reagan years, Democrats used despicable slander to trash the reputation of Clarence Thomas, but when that failed, they did not filibuster his nomination.
If Senate Democrats insist on using this tactic to attempt to deny the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, they are the ones who will set a dangerous precedent. The attempt will fail because Republicans are resolute in using their majority to get this well qualified Justice approved. Then when the next nominee comes up to replace one of the very liberal Justices, Democrats will be without recourse to stop a Trump appointment.