Sunday, 21 January, 2018

Gorsuch confirmation rolls Supreme Court to the right

Alfredo Watts | 19 April, 2017, 07:25

Merkley this week delivered a 15-1/2-hour Senate speech against Gorsuch.

Lawmakers confirmed him in a 54-45 vote in a simple up-or-down simple majority vote. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, then moved to change the rules so that the 60-vote threshold to advance Supreme Court nominations is now eliminated.

Gorsuch now counts 55 supporters in the Senate: the 52 Republicans, along with three moderate Democrats from states that Trump won last November - Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana.

The court has been operating with eight justices since the sudden death in February 2016 of Justice Antonin Scalia and a protracted fight over President Barack Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.

President Donald Trump says in a statement that Gorsuch's "judicial temperament, exceptional intellect, unparalleled integrity, and record of independence" will make him "the ideal choice" to serve on the court.

He said he was among those who persuaded Trump to come up with a list of potential Supreme Court nominees, a list which included Gorsuch, suggested by the Federalist Society which holds sway with most Republicans.

McConnell - as he did on the Senate floor Thursday prior to the rules change - said ending the filibuster on judicial nominees returns the process "back where the country was for 230 years (when) presidents got an up or down vote on executive branch appointments".

Democrats denounced the GOP's use of what both sides dubbed the "nuclear option" to put Gorsuch on the court, calling it an epic power grab that would further corrode politics in Congress, the courts and the United States.

In the end, McConnell said, 90 percent of Republicans, including many who weren't thrilled with Trump's nomination, voted for Trump and "the single biggest issue" for them was the chance for a Republican to name Scalia's successor.

Utah's senators both expressed support for the nomination. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices and worked for the Department of Justice. In 2013, then-Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid dismantled the filibuster option for lower federal court picks and cabinet appointees. The court did not give a time for the White House event. Not only does he possess unquestionably impressive credentials, but he has also demonstrated a deep and abiding understanding of the proper role of a judge under the Constitution.

The bitter, history-making showdown over Gorsuch, a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, is certain to fuel the toxic political environment in the Senate, deepening partisanship and gridlock. Ed Markey, D-Mass. "We now have a radical right-wing justice on the Supreme Court".

"The great project of Justice Scalia's career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators".

Gorsuch will be sworn in Monday and will quickly begin confronting cases of outcome, including one involving separation of church and state that the justices will take up in less than two weeks.

Democrats consistently tried to tie Gorsuch to Trump, suggesting he won't be independent from the President who nominated him.