Changing the Supreme Court is at the core of the Republican Party agenda this year. With one seat vacant and several other justices nearing retirement age, the men and women the president appoints will shape the four years to come.
But unless President-elect Trump gets serious with stalwart Senate Republicans who are resisting altering the filibuster rule, he will have to settle for lukewarm changes as a result of deals with the Democrats. While conservatives are demanding an end to the need for a super-majority to confirm Supreme Court justices and to pass ordinary legislation, the longtime Brahmins of the Senate are resisting any alteration in this long tradition.
Senators like John Thune, R-S.D., Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. and Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., are calling for no change in the filibuster rule. They say that they are concerned about what would happen if the filibuster were eliminated and the Republicans lost control of the Senate. But their concerns are without merit. The GOP is certain to control the White House for four years at least — and possibly eight. And the House will likely remain Republican for some time. The district lines offer great protection against a Democratic takeover, and, with GOP control of the majority of the state governments, the likelihood is that the new district lines after the 2020 census will be just as favorable.
Their concern also misses the key point: America is desperate for major change and all its hopes are pinned on the new administration. If Trump cannot deliver, the Republicans — and America itself — may not have a second chance. Unless we can completely repeal Obamacare and rescind all the President Obama over-reaches in executive power, we will be dogged by his legacy for decades. And, unless we can pass real tax cuts we will have a sluggish economy for many more years.
All hinges on killing the filibuster. If we have to bargain for a compromise judge — a Roberts or a Kennedy — we will never restore the Constitution to its primacy and will go further down the path of judicial legislation.
All conservatives must unite and make noise to force our Senators to back elimination of the filibuster. Now.