Will Trump's Supreme Court battle go nuclear?

Jonathan Tobin predicts that the coming battle over President Trump's Supreme Court nomination is "sure to go nuclear."

Writing at the New York Post, Tobin says Harry Reid's elimination of the Senate filibuster, requiring 60 votes for all nominations except the Supreme Court, is about to go one more step:

The filibuster was probably finished no matter which side won in November. It's arguable that the Republicans would have used it to stop any Hillary Clinton court nomination had Trump lost.

Given the stakes involved in replacing Scalia and the disappearance of any neutral ground left between the two parties, for either side to meekly allow their opponents to shift the court without a battle to the death has become unimaginable.

The end of the requirement for a filibuster-beating supermajority is the only way the court is ever going to get back to nine.

While there are ten Trump-state Senate Democrats up for re-election in 2018, the likelihood of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell being "able to split the opposition and win without a rules change" is complicated by the widening rift in Democratic Party politics, says Tobin:

But that possibility is limited by the certainty that some defecting Democrats would then face primary challenges from the increasingly belligerent Bernie Sanders wing of the party that seeks to recreate the same dynamic on the left that the Tea Party had on the GOP.

The president has acknowledged that he expects McConnell to overturn the filibuster for a Supreme Court nominee if the Democrats continue to be "obstructionists," while Senator McConnell for his part has said he does not plan to kill the filibuster but has also said he is "going to get this nominee confirmed."

As Hot Air points out, however, it is possible that a) McConnell may not have the votes to upend the filibuster, b) he thinks he won't need to upend it, c) he has another more arcane parliamentary way around the filibuster, or d) he has something else up his sleeve.

Given that McConnell paved the way for a Trump nominee by successfully blocking Obama's attempt to replace Antonin Scalia after Scalia's death last February, McConnell gets some credit as a master Senate tactician and thus the benefit of the doubt in this case.

Another factor here is that two of the leading candidates for the Trump Supreme Court nomination were easily confirmed by the Senate for their current federal appeals court positions. 

Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed by a voice vote, and Judge Thomas Hardiman was confirmed on a 95-0 vote "when nominated to their current posts by President George W. Bush."

More telling is that both current Senate Minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and current ranking member of the Senate Judiciary committee Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) voted to confirm both Gorsuch and Hardiman for their current judiciary seats.

But "that was yesterday, and yesterday's gone," as the song goes.

The post-inaugural Democrats have filled the airwaves with "fire-alarm nonsense," as Andrew McCarthy observes, and their leading actor, Senator Schumer, will be racing to the cameras to oppose any Trump Supreme Court nomination.

But the president, the master of reality television, who surely has something up his sleeve, pre-empts Senator Schumer at prime time tonight.