US President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee has been confirmed after Republicans approved a rule change over choosing him as the head of the Supreme Court despite furious Democratic objections.
After the Republicans adjusted the rules in their favor, the Senate voted Friday to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. "He's going to make an incredible addition to the court", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor.
McConnell and other senators also expressed the hope that after the bitter fight over Gorsuch the Senate can get back on a more bipartisan course, something that will be necessary to pass spending bills to keep the lights on in government by an April 28 midnight deadline. "Judge Gorsuch is a strict constitutionalist who believes that a judge's personal policy preferences should not affect the outcome of a case".
Judge Gorsuch is one of, if not the, most qualified Supreme Court nominees in our nation's history.
The Senate confirm Gorsuch 54-45 with three Democrats siding with Republicans - Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota. It came as a victory for Trump, who pledged to appoint another committed person to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia during his campaign appeal a year ago.
"It wasn't (in 2016) about who the president might nominate, it was about who we were electing", McConnell said of his efforts to persuade his Republican colleagues in the Senate majority not to hold confirmation hearings for Garland.
Justice Anthony Kennedy will administer the oath at the White House ceremony. The confirmation was achieved by dismantling the 60-vote threshold historically required to circumvent a filibuster on Gorsuch's appointment. But this is an even bigger win with a young justice who can serve 30 years or more on the bench.
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After he is sworn in, Gorsuch will restore the court's conservative voting majority that existed before Scalia's death.
Stephen Yale-Loehr, who teaches immigration law at Cornell Law School, said Trump has reason for optimism if his travel ban gets considered by the high court, possibly later this year.
In my time in the Senate, I have had the distinct honor of playing a key role in the confirmation of fourteen Supreme Court nominees. Many Republicans bemoaned reaching that point, too, but they blamed Democrats for pushing them to it.
Vice President Mike Pence presided over the vote, but was not needed to break a tie.
Sen. Roy Blunt (R-Missouri) voted in favor of confirming Gorsuch for the post. All involved were keenly aware of the long-term implications of the proceedings, some of them hard to predict for the future of Trump's presidency and the 2018 midterm elections, when Republicans will be defending their slim 52-48 Senate majority and 10 vulnerable Democrats in states Trump won will be up for re-election.
A conservative-majority court is more likely to support gun rights, abortion regulations, an expansive view of religious liberty and Republican-backed voting restrictions, while opposing curbs on political spending.