Some observations on the stolen seat
• Republicans must have felt under tremendous pressure, maybe even from Trump himself, to get something done. From ACA repeal to Trump's budget to Flynn, it's been one fiasco after another. They're desperate for a success, any success.
• Once the filibuster's gone, it's gone. From now on, whichever party holds 51 Senate seats, or 50 plus the Vice Presidency, can do whatever it wants with Supreme Court nominations. Why would that party ever vote to give up that power by reinstating the filibuster?
• For the 2018 election, the Senate is now of supreme importance. A net gain of three seats would give us the majority. It's a tall order since few Republicans are up for re-election -- but the President's party usually takes losses in a midterm, and this is the most incompetent and unpopular administration in living memory.
• If we do regain the majority, the power it brings must be used to the utmost. In my view, if there is another Supreme Court vacancy, our Senators should refuse to consider any nominee Trump (or more likely Pence, by then) sends them. Hold the seat for the next President as the Republicans did, even if that means a vacancy for two years. Never mind that they claimed they did that because it was an election year -- we and they both know that's a flagrant lie, and there's no need to pretend otherwise. It will be retaliation in kind, and well deserved. Our Senators should make it clear that there is only one exception -- the only case in which we would confirm would be if the "President" re-nominates Garland, the man who should have been on the Court all along. Otherwise, we wait.
• Expecting our Senators to have that much backbone might seem unrealistic, but my sense is there are a lot of people pretty angry about today's development -- mostly because of the seat Gorsuch will take being stolen from Obama's nominee. That anger can be channeled into public pressure to stiffen our Senators' resolve. Pressure has worked, even on Republicans, on issues such as the ACA repeal and the Congressional Ethics Office. It can continue to work.
• Finally, what have the Republicans really gained? They've replaced Scalia with -- another Scalia, and one who's not even as extreme as the original on some issues. They've just restored the previous status quo, and not quite even that. The seat should have gone to Garland, a centrist, who compared to Scalia would have represented a real shift our way. But if we've gained nothing, neither has the enemy.