Will The GOP Use Rule 19 To Push Through Gorsuch To Supreme Court?

Rule 19 is more than just a way to shut down Senators who are being disrespectful to colleagues, as Elizabeth Warren learned Tuesday, as Sean Davis explains. It’s a way to keep debate without invoking the nuclear option. The two speech rule, a way to stop continuous filibusters which can stop Senate business

(Federalist) However, this state of affairs is not actually required by Senate rules, nor by Senate precedents (to understand the distinction between the two, think of Senate rules as a statute and of precedents as case law, which can invalidate laws as originally written). The modern practice of allowing 41 senators to indefinitely obstruct up-or-down votes under the guise of debate is just that: a mere practice, indulged by courtesy. No precedents or rules require this state of affairs to continue. By enforcing Senate rules regarding debate — specifically Rule XIX — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can guarantee an up-or-down vote on Supreme Court nominees without resorting to the nuclear option, which would kill the filibuster and instantly eliminate all debate at the whim of a simple majority.

Rule XIX of the Standing Rules of the Senate plainly states that on any given question, a senator may speak only twice on the same legislative day. This clause is known in Senate parlance as the two-speech rule. No senator may speak more than two times on the same matter on the same legislative day. Here’s the relevant text from the rule:

OK, you can head over to read the whole thing, as well as that relevant text. What it all means is that Mitch McConnell can keep the Senate in the same “day” for days, weeks, even months. Once people have spoken twice, he can force a simple majority vote, and no filibuster can stop it. This was actually used to pass the Civil Rights Act over the (mostly Democrat Senators) filibuster, when the legislative day ended up being 81 days long

Davis wraps it up with

The two-speech rule option provides the best of all worlds by addressing the concerns of both sides of the Supreme Court nomination debate. Instead of nuking debate, the two-speech rule option merely nukes obstruction. And it does so by encouraging debate and by encouraging the input of every single senator.

Current Senate practice empowers a lazy minority by allowing indefinite obstruction without requiring any effort or debate. If voters want a confirmation process that simultaneously encourages debate while limiting obstruction, they should demand that the Senate set the nuclear option aside and invoke the two-speech rule option instead.

That’s a powerful point. Force debate. Of course, Democrats won’t actually debate, they’ll smear and lie and try all sorts of shenanigans. But, Rule 19 will eventually force them to vote.

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2 Responses to “Will The GOP Use Rule 19 To Push Through Gorsuch To Supreme Court?”

  1. Dana says:

    It won’t work. If Senator McConnell tries that, the Dems will stop debating and call the question on a day when a couple of Republican senators are absent.

  2. Jeffery says:

    trump’s SCOTUS nominee Gorsuch calls trump’s comments about federal judge “disheartening” and “demoralizing”. Is this a ploy between Gorsuch and our so-called president for Gorsuch to garner sympathy from Dem Senators? Or does even Gorsuch recognize that trump is unfit?

    Putin would have Gorsuch murdered. What will our so-called president do? (tweet about Nordstroms?)


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