GORSUCH CONFIRMED: Trump's Supreme Court pick headed to the bench

Senate Republicans managed to bypass a Democratic filibuster Thursday, April 6, tossing the chamber's long-held rules aside in order to clear a path for the confirmation of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's nominee to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat.

Trump nominated Gorsuch to fill the vacancy left on the Supreme Court by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia past year.

The three Democrats who voted for Gorsuch were North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Indiana's Joe Donnelly - all moderate Democrats facing challenging reelection bids next year in red states.

But Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, said in a statement that the Gorsuch confirmation was "an unhappy day to those Americans committed to justice and equality for all".

But lowering the threshold for a Supreme Court pick is a more significant step. The move inspired an outcry from Senate Democrats, who complained the new rules were unfair (while apparently forgetting their own party went nuclear back in 2013 to confirm then-President Obama's cabinet nominees). The GOP in pushed his nomination through with a simple majority vote instead of the historic two-thirds majority vote.

However, Democrats filibustered Gorsuch's nomination, denying him the needed 60 votes.

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.

The 49-year-old Denver-based judge will become the 113th person to serve on the nation's highest court.

Gorsuch's confirmation ends a 14-month vacancy on the court following the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

With the recent failure of Republican healthcare legislation in Congress and with federal courts blocking the president's ban on people from several Muslim-majority nations from entering the USA, securing Gorsuch's confirmation took on even greater importance for Trump, who took office in January.

Later on Monday, Associate Justice Anthony M. Kennedy will administer the Judicial Oath at a public ceremony at the White House.

The expected confirmation would give a boost to Trump.

  • Larry Hoffman