CNN's Louis Frets 'Radical Action' of GOP Breaking Filibuster of Gorsuch

In multiple appearances on CNN on Monday, CNN political commentator and Spectrum News political anchor Errol Louis fretted over the Republican effort to bar the filibuster of Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Louis called such a move "radical action" as he appeared on CNN's New Day, and, appearing later on CNN Newsroom, he worried that such an action would begin a precedent that would result in the Supreme Court "greatly denuded from what the Founders wanted," and becoming "just a branch of the Senate, in effect."

Over the weekend on New Day Saturday, Louis was notably also still agitated over retired General Michael Flynn leading "lock her up" chants against Hillary Clinton during the presidential campaign as the CNN commentator declared that it was "one of the ugliest moments in politics I've ever seen in 30 years."

On Monday's New Day, during a panel discussion of the Gorsuch nomination, co-host Chris Cuomo posed:

You got Democrats and Republicans preparing for what's being called a nuclear showdown. Let's bring back the panel to discuss this nuclearity and whether or not it is worth it. ... I make fun of the word, Errol, because I think it's gotten a little too much hype, all right? But that's the state of play, that if this happens, you change the filibuster culture, you change the Senate, they'll be just like that nasty House. How real is that?

Louis called confirmation with a simple majority "radical action" as he began:

It's a real -- it's a real possibility. I mean, keep in mind, this is bookends to what was already sort of radical action when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. The refusal to even consider to give a hearing to Merrick Garland was without precedent.

And so, having taken that step, the Republican majority looks like they're going to sort of take the next step, which is to sort of change the rules -- possibly forever -- and have a narrow, partisan vote to confirm Supreme Court nominees -- something that hasn't been done before, something that sort of traditionalists in the Senate don't want to see happen.

During the 2:00 p.m. ET hour of CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin, CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin seemed surprisingly unconcerned about the Senate confirming justices with a simple majority as the liberal analyst concluded that it merely "democracy." Louis laughed initially and then took the matter more seriously -- calling Toobin's analysis "provocative" -- as he engaged in fearmongering about what would happen in the future without the possibility of Supreme Court nominee filibusters. Louis:

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Yeah, I think my friend is being provocative here. The reality, look, if you want to turn it into yet another legislative chamber where there are partisan fights and there are simply power plays, you know, let's remember. This is bookends -- this week's events are bookends to what happened to Merrick Garland where -- as a power play -- the Senate majority decided they just weren't going to have any hearings. They weren't going to talk to the man -- they weren't going to hold any hearings -- they weren't going to cast any votes. 

Now, let's roll it forward -- either this majority or a future Democratic majority can do the same things. Maybe it stops being one year. Maybe it turns into two or three or four -- in which case we have the Supreme Court greatly denuded from what the Founders wanted in the first place. And, secondly, sort of a, just a branch of the Senate, in effect.

A few days ago on New Day Saturday, Louis still seemed bothered by the behavior of Republicans during the election as he discussed the possibility that General Flynn will be given immunity. He recalled:

There is, in fact, some irony here. One of the ugliest moments in politics I've ever seen in 30 years of covering different things was Mike Flynn at the convention in Cleveland chanting "lock her up," leading chants of "lock her up." I mean, so he knows very, very well because he used to lead -- because he led those chants -- what mob mentality, how dangerous it is, how ugly it is, how inaccurate it can be, and the danger it can pose to somebody's legal standing or even freedom. So, yes, he doesn't want to be part of what he himself has created.

Relevant transcripts follow:

#April 1 New Day Saturday:

6:13 a.m. ET
VICTOR BLACKWELL: So, Errol, is there potentially an expectation that he has nothing to offer that they don't already have and he can't offer a bigger fish?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, no, look, every person is entitled to a legal counsel, and any competent legal counsel will tell you there's no way you walk into such a charged atmosphere without getting something in return as far as protection. So his lawyer is doing what any lawyer would do, as did Mrs. Clinton's, you know? I mean, there is, in fact, some irony here.

One of the ugliest moments in politics I've ever seen in 30 years of covering different things was Mike Flynn at the convention in Cleveland chanting "lock her up," leading chants of "lock her up." I mean, so he knows very, very well because he used to lead -- because he led those chants -- what mob mentality, how dangerous it is, how ugly it is, how inaccurate it can be, and the danger it can pose to somebody's legal standing or even freedom. So, yes, he doesn't want to be part of what he himself has created. And it's not just ironic. It's what the new politics in Washington appears to be based on.

(...)

#Monday, April 3, New Day:

6:20 a.m. ET
CHRIS CUOMO: You got Democrats and Republicans preparing for what's being called a nuclear showdown. Let's bring back the panel to discuss this nuclearity and whether or not it is worth it. ... I make fun of the word, Errol, because I think it's gotten a little too much hype, all right? But that's the state of play, that if this happens, you change the filibuster culture, you change the Senate, they'll be just like that nasty House. How real is that?

ERROL LOUIS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: It's a real -- it's a real possibility. I mean, keep in mind, this is bookends to what was already sort of radical action when it comes to Supreme Court nominees. The refusal to even consider to give a hearing to Merrick Garland was without precedent.

And so, having taken that step, the Republican majority looks like they're going to sort of take the next step, which is to sort of change the rules -- possibly forever -- and have a narrow, partisan vote to confirm Supreme Court nominees -- something that hasn't been done before, something that sort of traditionalists in the Senate don't want to see happen. But that's the politics of the moment, and that's where we are.

(...)

#Monday, April 3, CNN Newsroom with Brooke Baldwin:

2:07 p.m. ET
BROOKE BALDWIN: To me, I think of this two ways. It's like short-term, and if you're a Democrat or a Republican, I mean, Judge Gorsuch is a pretty -- he's an incredibly qualified pick. I'm thinking, down the road, whether Ruth Bader Ginsburg, or a Justice Kennedy, and there is that second crucial, you know, swing spot where all of this would then sway how Republicans feel. That's a bit of a big deal.

JEFFREY TOOBIN, CNN SENIOR LEGAL ANALYST: Well, you know --

BALDWIN: Am I getting ahead of myself?

TOOBIN: No, you're not, but I would, you know, I'll defer to Dana and Errol on the procedures. Let's talk about the Supreme Court. Let's talk about the year 2040 -- which we don't talk about very much because it's so far off in the distance. You know, Neil Gorsuch is likely to be on the Supreme Court in 2040. That's what these appointments mean. And he's very conservative.

So that means on abortion rights, on gay rights, on Citizens United and campaign finance -- this is going to be a voice for the conservative position. And that to me is what really matters about this appointment. I mean, you know, we can talk about the procedures and whatnot -- the Senate procedures -- but he's going to be on the Supreme Court for a very long time. He's only 49 years old, and that's what's really significant about the news today.

BALDWIN: But the Senate procedures matter if you want to go ahead and talk 2040 and another potential position opening -- let's even say within the next four years of a Trump presidency. If they can go with a simple majority -- if they change the Senate rules -- and if somebody comes up an even more conservative justice, then with those 51 votes, that person's in.

TOOBIN: Absolutely. And, frankly, I don't understand what's so terrible about that. I mean, you know, what's magical about 60? I thought we deal in majority rule in this country. I mean, I think 51 is a majority.

BALDWIN: Errol is smiling.

LOUIS: Yeah, I think my friend is being provocative here.

TOOBIN: I think --

LOUIS: The reality, look, if you want to turn it into yet another legislative chamber where there are partisan fights and there are simply power plays, you know, let's remember. This is bookends -- this week's events are bookends to what happened to Merrick Garland where -- as a power play -- the Senate majority decided they just weren't going to have any hearings. They weren't going to talk to the man -- they weren't going to hold any hearings -- they weren't going to cast any votes.

Now, let's roll it forward -- either this majority or a future Democratic majority can do the same things. Maybe it stops being one year. Maybe it turns into two or three or four -- in which case we have the Supreme Court greatly denuded from what the Founders wanted in the first place. And, secondly, sort of a, just a branch of the Senate, in effect.

Brad Wilmouth
Brad Wilmouth is a contributing blogger to NewsBusters