People For the American Way

Condemnations of the Nuclear Option, Even in Red States

News and Analysis

As Mitch McConnell decides whether to try to exercise the nuclear option, influential newspapers across the country—even in the reddest of red states—are urging Senate Republicans not to take that path. This includes newspapers that have endorsed Gorsuch but would rather see him replaced as the nominee than be confirmed through a partisan change in Senate rules.

For instance, in Texas (home of Republicans John Cornyn and Ted Cruz, both members of the Judiciary Committee), the Dallas Morning News editorializes that Neil Gorsuch deserves Supreme Court confirmation — but not if it requires the nuclear option.

Senate hearings over the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch have concluded, and they have not changed this newspaper’s conviction that President Donald Trump’s pick for the high court should be confirmed.

But we strongly disagree with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell that [overwhelming opposition] would justify his invoking the “nuclear option,” upending Senate rules to lower that debate-ending threshold to a simple majority.

And if [Republicans fail to garner 60 votes for Gorsuch]? Then their only responsible course would be to inform the president he’s going to have to make another choice.

The Senate’s long tradition of giving the minority party some leverage to fend off the majority is critical to maintain, no matter who is in power.

Colorado’s leading newspaper, The Denver Post, takes the same position, saying : Cory Gardner should reject the nuclear option. As qualified as Neil Gorsuch is, ending the Senate filibuster isn’t worth his confirmation.

[W]e are more than distressed with Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner’s decision to support trashing the filibuster in Supreme Court confirmation proceedings. We urge the senator to rethink his position and work instead to stop this erosion of checks and balances.

Gardner won our support in 2014 because Congress was dysfunctional and needed a fresh leader. Here is his chance to prove he’s not a lockstep GOP minion, but a free thinker.

In Utah (whose two Republican senators Orrin Hatch and Mike Lee are on the Judiciary Committee), the Deseret News urged GOP senators back in December not to exercise the nuclear option.

[Senate Republicans should] resist the temptation to extend the “nuclear option” to include Supreme Court nominees, which is something they are actively considering. If they make this mistake, history suggests they can eventually expect to receive a taste of their own medicine.

In the home state of self-styled “maverick” Republican John McCain and Judiciary Committee member Jeff Flake, the Arizona Republic editorializes: Like limited government? Then don’t kill the filibuster.

National editorial boards also recognize the damage Sen. McConnell would do if he opts to “go nuclear.” For instance:

As all these editorial boards say, exercising the nuclear option would do immense damage to the nation. They recognize that if the nominee is so divisive that he cannot get 60 votes, then the solution is to change the nominee, not the rules.


Cory Gardner, Jeff Flake, John Cornyn, John McCain, Mike Lee, Neil Gorsuch, Nuclear Option, Orrin Hatch, Protecting the Supreme Court, Stop Gorsuch, Supreme Court, Ted Cruz