Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

The Senate voted 54-45 after the Republicans majority changed the rules to no longer require a super majority. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 6, 2017, as Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to change Senate rules to guarantee confirmation.

Even as senior Republicans lamented the voting change, McConnell and some allies argued that all they were doing was returning to a time, not long ago, when filibusters of judicial nominees were unusual, and it was virtually unheard-of to try to block a Supreme Court nominee in that fashion.

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD: "Republicans in the Senate just destroyed a steadfast American tradition for the objective of confirming a person to the U.S. Supreme Court who will most certainly vote in opposition to the safety and well-being of the LGBTQ community and many marginalized groups for his entire career on the bench".

Once Gorsuch is sworn in, the Supreme Court will have a conservative majority.

Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights: "The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is an unhappy day to those Americans committed to justice and equality for all".

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

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

Sen. Chuck Grassley, the Iowa Republican and Judiciary Committee chair who played a key role in the fight, cast blame on Senate Democrats, emphasizing in a floor speech Thursday that they were engaging in the "first partisan filibuster in USA history".

"I want to congratulate Judge Gorsuch on this significant achievement". McConnell vowed that would not happen on his watch. At the same time, several justices are over 70 years of age, and retirement rumors surrounding Kennedy could give Trump other opportunities during his presidency to add to the conservative bloc.

"The American people spoke and we will confirm the nominee the new president has selected", McConnell said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said of the rules change that won approval: "It will make the cooling saucer of the Senate considerably hotter, and I believe it will make the Supreme Court a more partisan place". Oregon Democrat Jeff Merkely accused Republicans of the "theft" of the court seat. McConnell told reporters Friday he viewed it as "the most consequential decision I've ever been involved in".

"He's an exceptional choice", McConnell said.

Gorsuch's rise is a rare bright spot for Trump amid court rulings halting his immigration order, Republicans' inability to agree on an Obamacare repeal, and investigations of potential connections between Russian Federation and Trump's presidential campaign. 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. "No. 2 it's genius, in that order, because he knew how much criticism he would get".

  • Larry Hoffman