Monday, 25 September, 2017

Gorsuch confirmed; Senate approves Trump nominee, 54-45

Melissa Porter | 18 April, 2017, 01:19

The vote was 54-45, as three Democrats voted for Gorsuch, Sen.

The judge won support Friday from 51 of the chamber's Republicans as well as three moderate Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won last fall: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

"What I'm hopeful we'll see today and over the next couple of weeks is a strong bipartisan commitment to defend the legislative filibuster, the thing that makes the Senate the Senate and not the House".

In 2005, with the Senate under GOP control, Republicans prepared to utilize the "nuclear option" to remove the filibuster for lower-court nominees. He was nominated by Trump shortly after the January inauguration.

"A seat of such importance should have required the 60 votes needed for confirmation". It allowed most presidential nominees, including federal court judges, to pass on a simple majority, but it excluded Supreme Court picks. The yearlong vacancy made the direction of Supreme Court one of the major issues of the 2016 election. In exit polls, 21 percent of voters called Supreme Court appointments "the most important factor" for their votes, and among those people 56 percent voted for Trump. There is no way to know how many there will be, if any, but several justices are quite elderly.

In the end, three Democratic senators up for re-election in 2018 in states won by Trump past year - Indiana's Joe Donnelly, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp - broke with their party and voted with Republicans to bring about a confirmation vote, though they opposed the rule change.

On Thursday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked "nuclear option" to stop Senate Democrats' filibuster of Gorsuch's nomination. That unusual external review omitted consultation with Senate Democrats, contributing to bitter Democrat complaints about the way the whole process was handled. And in many ways the showdown had been pre-ordained, the final chapter in years of partisan warfare over judicial nominees.

However, while the Court may not change much in its makeup with Gorsuch's addition, his nomination was shrouded in controversy due to political games by both Republicans and Democrats that went on since President Barack Obama first nominated Judge Merrick Garland to be Scalia's replacement. Democratic senators are concerned about his ruling record as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, where he ruled conservatively on cases regarding religious freedom and civil rights.

The path to confirmation took unprecedented steps. Instead McConnell kept Scalia's seat open, a calculation that is now paying off for Republicans and Trump.

"This vote, which is yet another example of the Republican willingness to undermine critical democratic institutions in support of Donald Trump's radical agenda, will mean new threats to workers' rights, reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights and the rights of all Americans", the group's CEO, Stosh Cotler said in a Friday statement.

Gorsuch was the youngest Supreme Court nominee since Republican President George H.W. Bush in 1991 picked Clarence Thomas, who was 43 at the time.