MSNBC Flat-Footed by ‘Traditional’ SCOTUS Roll-Out; Matthews Thinks Gorsuch Won’t Make It

Immediately following President Donald Trump announcing Judge Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court pick on Tuesday, MSNBC appeared flat-footed by the “traditional rollout” of Gorsuch with chief legal correspondent Ari Melber noting how the reality-television predictions didn’t hold true while Gorsuch was “elegant and broad.”

Despite that praise from Melber, Hardball host Chris Matthews predicted that Gorsuch’s fate will be determined by whether or not Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell removes the filibuster (for which Matthews opined is unlikely).

Matthews followed up on his doom and gloom from the 7:00 p.m. Eastern hour by predicting that Gorsuch’s fate will “come down...to a sad denouement” in the form of “60 votes to get this approved and I think the Republicans will have their rank-and-file 52 votes will be there, but I don't think the Democrats are going to give them a single vote which means this is will go to a filibuster.”

“I hate to cut to the chase but I will — it's going to be up to Mitch McConnell. He’s going to have to choose between something he deeply believes in. He really believes in it, as an institutionalist in the Senate, the need to make the Senate different than the House, to have a filibuster requirement of 60 votes...He's not going to give that away easily,” Matthews added.

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Before going back to All In host Chris Hayes (who spent parts of the remaining time on other topics), Matthews lamented that Gorsuch seems to be “a good guy” but “I don't think it’s going to get through because I don't think they'll get 60 votes because I don't think they'll get a single Democratic vote” because “this country is so polarized now.”

On Gorsuch’s ideology, Matthews told Hayes: 

Judge Gorsuch sounded like [Antonin] Scalia, talking about I like law. I don't like to have the Constitution reinterpreted like we did with the case of Kansas — the first case back in ‘54 and all the other cases since about public school prayer and abortion rights and the Lawrence case, a lot of those are landmark cases that either involved looking and finding something in the Constitution in terms of our rights that wasn't seen before. It was inherent but it was there. 

Minutes earlier, Melber admitted:

There's a saying in legal circles “don't believe the hype” and there was a ton of hype in the runup to this event. Don't believe it. I think what we just witnessed was a very traditional rollout of a Supreme Court name. The President's remarks were brief, especially for this President. The judge's remarks were brief and elegant and broad but we didn't learn anything.

Further, Melber described Gorsuch as “right of center in conservative legal thought” but, more broadly, “an intellectual and a thinker” with a few particular passions: “He is pro-gun rights. He is pro-religious freedom, to the point of being very skeptical of ObamaCare and its treatment of both religious adherence and also religious companies.”

Here’s the relevant portion of the transcript from MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes on January 31:

MSNBC’s All In with Chris Hayes
January 31, 2017
8:15 p.m. Eastern

ARI MELBER: There's a saying in legal circles “don't believe the hype” and there was a ton of hype in the runup to this event. Don't believe it. I think what we just witnessed was a very traditional rollout of a Supreme Court name. The President's remarks were brief, especially for this President. The judge's remarks were brief and elegant and broad but we didn't learn anything. You're not supposed to. As for who is Judge Gorsuch, this is someone on the right of center in conservative legal thought but is also seen as an intellectual and a thinker.  He is pro-gun rights. He is pro-religious freedom, to the point of being very skeptical of ObamaCare and its treatment of both religious adherence and also religious companies.

(....)

CHRIS MATTHEWS: I thought that Judge Gorsuch sounded like Scalia, talking about I like law. I don't like to have the Constitution reinterpreted like we did with the case of Kansas — the first case back in ‘54 and all the other cases since about public school prayer and abortion rights and the Lawrence case, a lot of those are landmark cases that either involved looking and finding something in the Constitution in terms of our rights that wasn't seen before. It was inherent but it was there. I think this is going to come down, Chris, to a sad denouement. I think it's going to take 60 votes to get this approved and I think the Republicans will have their rank-and-file 52 votes will be there. But I don't think the Democrats are going to give them a single vote which mean this is will go to a filibuster and then — and I hate to cut to the chase but I will — it's going to be up to Mitch McConnell. He’s going to have to choose between something he deeply believes in.

He really believes in it, as an institutionalist in the Senate, the need to make the Senate different than the House, to have a filibuster requirement of 60 votes that keeps it from being too extreme in either direction, requiring cabinet members, for example, everybody has to go through the 60-vote requirement, that threshold. He's not going to give that away easily. Trump says he will but I don't think Mitch McConnell will so in the end, it’s going to be Mitch McConnell making a decision. Do I give up the filibuster rule which requires 60 votes to get something through if that means giving up something I believe in, do just for Trump to get his first nominee through? I don't think he'll do it. Mitch McConnell will hold fast and say it’s going to be 60 votes. 

This fella — he’s probably a good guy, very much like Antonin Scalia, a good person whatever you think of him politically and ideologically and I don't think it’s going to through because I don't think they'll get 60 votes because I don't think they'll get a single Democratic vote, Chris. Not a one. Cause this country is so polarized now and you know it as well as I do. Look at the DeVos nomination for Education Secretary. You can see united party fronts on this kind of vote, these ideological votes.

NB Daily Appointments Judiciary Gorsuch Nomination Congress Political Groups Conservatives & Republicans Liberals & Democrats MSNBC Hardball Video U.S. Supreme Court Chris Matthews Ari Melber Neil Gorsuch Antonin Scalia
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