A not-so-crazy conspiracy theory for you: What if Schumer put Leahy up to this? No minority leader likes to see his authority undermined, but Schumer’s in a terrible bind here. If he doesn’t show the left that he’s willing to avenge Merrick Garland by using every obstructionist trick at his disposal, progressives will scapegoat him and turn him into a lightning rod for their anger over Trump. In fact, they already have. If, on the other hand, the caucus follows his lead and successfully filibusters Gorsuch, it’ll be a fiasco — McConnell will nuke it, Gorsuch will be confirmed anyway, and the left will have lost their last bit of procedural leverage over an eventual Trump nominee for Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s or Stephen Breyer’s seat. A filibuster now would be the purest strategic idiocy and Schumer knows it. Solution, then: Endorse the filibuster in his role as minority leader while nudging Leahy, a Senate institution and Judiciary Committee veteran who almost certainly can’t be defeated in Vermont, to lead the rebellion instead. Now, when Manchin and Bennet and McCaskill et al. need to justify their votes in favor of cloture, they can point to Leahy and say, “Sen. Leahy’s judgment carries such heavy weight with me, especially in terms of getting politics out of judicial nominations, that I feel obliged to join him in this vote.” Leahy then becomes the lightning rod. But so what? He’s immune from this sort of political lightning.
That makes perfect sense, although is likely to change if the Democrats smell enough GOP blood in the water that it doesn’t look like they have 51 votes to nuke the filibuster.
Word may be trickling down, if Allahpundit has it right.