If the question is what Senate Democrats should do, though, there is little question: Just say no. If Senate Republicans want Gorsuch, they should have to eliminate the filibuster for Supreme Court nominations. There are compelling reasons, both general and specific to this nominee, why Senate Democrats should go to the mat.
The first, most obvious reason was that this Supreme Court seat was essentially stolen. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans created a new precedent holding that a president could not fill a vacancy with nearly a year remaining in a term. The people, the theory of Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and his colleagues went, should be allowed to decide.
This new precedent is intolerable on a number of levels, not least of which is that the people decided when they elected Barack Obama to a second term. But it becomes pure gall when you consider that Republicans in 2016 benefited twice over from some of the least democratic features of the American system—first, getting a narrow majority in a grossly malapportioned Senate, and then being awarded the presidency by the Electoral College despite losing the popular vote by nearly three million ballots.
There is another good reason to filibuster Gorsuch: His jurisprudence will be awful. His frequent invocations of Scalia in his speech on Tuesday were no accident. He will be a very reliable Republican vote—opposed to Roe v. Wade, hostile to the rights of employees and racial minorities, willing to uphold restrictions on the right to vote, and construing the powers of the federal government too narrowly. If he differs from Scalia, it will likely be that he lacks Scalia’s libertarian streak on civil liberties. Democrats should oppose him because he represents an awful, neoconfederate view of the Constitution.
Gorsuch is a bad choice to fill a vacancy that should never have been Trump’s to fill in the first place. Democrats probably can’t prevent him from being on the Court, but they should make his nomination as difficult as possible.
Given McConnell’s blockade, there is a strong presumption against any Democratic collaboration on Supreme Court nominees, and Gorsuch would be worth filibustering even under normal circumstances. So there should clearly be a filibuster, and that seems to be where Democrats are headed.