Neil Gorsuch Confirmed to Supreme Court; Conservatives Celebrate
The Republican-led Senate on Friday gave Donald Trump the biggest triumph of his young presidency, confirming his Supreme Court nominee over stout Democratic opposition and restoring a conservative majority on the highest us judicial body.
Senators voted Friday 54-45 in favor of Gorsuch becoming the 113th Supreme Court justice to fill the seat of Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016.
At 49, he is decades younger than several of the other justices - two are in their 80s and one is 78 - raising the possibility that President Donald Trump will have a chance to appoint more conservatives to a court that has been somewhat balanced in recent years.
Gorsuch's confirmation comes a day after Republicans changed the rules on the threshold Supreme Court justices must meet to win confirmation. On Thursday, Senate Republicans successfully invoked the so-called "nuclear option", effectively terminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.
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More broadly, Democrats remain furious that Republicans under McConnell's leadership blocked consideration of former President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, in turn allowing Trump to nominate Gorsuch.
Gorsuch will be sworn in on Monday in two ceremonies, an earlier private ceremony followed by a public ceremony, the White House said. In the end, the campaign on Gorsuch's behalf helped to unite Republicans but wooed less than a handful of Democrats to his side, leaving McConnell to deploy the nuclear option. That means that in the future, when certain cases are brought to the Supreme Court, the issues at hand might be interpreted differently from the way the slight majority of the court has lately been ruling.
The final confirmation vote on Gorsuch is expected Friday, and he should be sworn in soon to hear the final cases of the term.
And with the Senate's rules changed to eliminate the minority party's power, "The president no longer needs to garner support from any Democrats", says John Malcolm, senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation.
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Yet anti-gun loyalists in the Democratic Party, blinded by ideology and unable to recover from their stinging rebuke in the election, launched the first partisan filibuster in USA history to block Neil Gorsuch's nomination. Senate Republicans' refusal to consider Garland - chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, a traditional steppingstone to the Supreme Court - colored Democrats' reception to Gorsuch since his nomination January 31.
FILE - In this March 22, 2017, file photo, Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington. There is no way to know how many there will be, if any, but several justices are quite elderly. Do you fear the Senate will become more partisan?
Gorsuch's confirmation was all-but-assured on Thursday, when Republicans cleared the way for him by overcoming a historic Democratic blockade and changing the rules of the Senate. If Trump gets to replace any of them, the court could swing much further to the right.
Even as they united in indignation, lawmakers of both parties, pulled by fierce political forces from left and right, were unwilling to stop the confirmation rules change.
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The Senate has 52 Republicans and 48 Democrats. And in many ways the showdown had been pre-ordained, the final chapter in years of partisan warfare over judicial nominees.
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