Senate Confirms Gorsuch as McConnell Takes Victory Lap

The Gorsuch nomination teed up historic high drama Thursday, as senate democrats voted to filibuster Gorsuch and Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell changed the rules to break it - the so-called nuclear option, paving the way for a final vote on the Trump nominee.

The confirmation process was bitter and partisan, especially after the Republican-controlled Senate refused a year ago to hold hearings for Merrick Garland, who President Obama nominated for the court.

On Thursday, Mr McConnell triggered a legislative manoeuvre known as the "nuclear option" when Republicans lacked the 60 votes required to appoint a Supreme Court judge. This tally includes all 52 Republicans along with three moderate Democrats from states Trump won last November: West Virginia's Joe Manchin, North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, and Indiana's Joe Donnelly.

The chamber voted 54-45 on Friday to seal the confirmation of Denver appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch.

Hatch said he was disappointed that partisan politics interfered with the Senate's consideration of a nominee who deserved unanimous support, but pleased that Gorsuch will become the 113th associate justice on the court.

Gorsuch will fill the vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia's death in February 2016.

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

The GOP is likely to change Senate rules at some point during the week of April 3 through April 7 to lessen the 60-vote threshold to a simple majority.

U.S. Sens. Ed Markey and Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, who had spoken out against Gorsuch's record, both voted against his confirmation.

The outcome was a major victory for Trump, his first big congressional win.

On Monday, Senate Democrats secured enough votes to try to block the confirmation of Gorsuch, despite Republicans's goal to approve the candidate anyway.

It is unclear if Trump will have any future nominations to the top court, but two justices - Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg - are 80 or older, while Stephen Breyer is rapidly approaching that milestone.

McConnell said he made the move "for the sake of our country".

"At a time when folks are struggling to stay in the middle class, and are struggling as hard as ever to get into the middle class, we need a justice on the court who will help swing it back in the direction of the people", Schumer said.

  • Larry Hoffman