Senate Republicans vote to use 'nuclear option' to confirm Gorsuch

Cheryl Sanders
April 8, 2017

In this frame grab from video provided by Senate Television, Sen. Dick Durbin of IL, ridiculed Republicans for suggesting Democrats brought the Senate to this final action.

A divided Senate has confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court in a win for President Donald Trump and the Republicans.

Democrats denounced the GOP's use of what both sides dubbed the "nuclear option" to put Gorsuch on the court.

Democrats opposing Gorsuch say they believe he would favor corporations over workers and would be on the far right of the court.

Top Senate Democrat Chuck Schumer pointed the finger at Republicans, but said he took "no solace" in blaming his political rivals because the consequences of the change will be so dramatic.

"The opposition to this particular nominee is more about the man who nominated him and the party he represents than the nominee himself", McConnell said.

SCOTUS refers to the Supreme Court of the United States.

Before Republicans essentially cleared the way for Gorsuch's confirmation with the rules change, Democrats had stalled the effort over lingering resentment that Obama's pick to fill the seat, Merrick Garland, was never given a hearing.


Republicans want Democrats to show more bipartisanship and allow Gorsuch to advance through the process.

The move likely ensures more ideological justices chosen without consultation with the minority party. The final vote was 55-45.

The confrontation will play out over the coming hours as 44 Democrats and independents try to block the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch by denying Republicans the 60 votes needed to proceed to final passage.

Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of ME said roughly 10 senators of both parties worked over the weekend to come up with a deal to stave off the so-called "nuclear option", as the rules change is known, but couldn't come to agreement.

Leonard Leo, who has been advising Trump on Supreme Court issues, said Thursday that Senate Republicans have "restored the long-standing tradition of the Senate of having a simple majority, up or down vote for Supreme Court nominees".

The rules revision, enacted through what many call the "nuclear option", sets Gorsuch up for confirmation Friday.

This is how the Senate changes - not with a bang, but with a motion to overturn the ruling of the chair.

In the past, the nuclear option has been averted when moderates in the two parties compromised to avoid a showdown, but the ferocious partisanship in Washington now made that impossible. Republicans responded with the 52-48 party-line vote to change the rules. But they're also important and worth understanding - especially when they determine the outcome on things like a Supreme Court nomination.


The rule change is known as the nuclear option due to its breaking of longstanding precedent.

Usually these steps are done quickly by unanimous consent, but because Democrats are angry and protesting, they could force multiple roll-call votes to do this. Gorsuch could be expected to serve for decades.

While making it much easier to cut off endless debate by lowering the so-called "cloture" requirement to 51 votes, the maneuver also keeps intact other aspects of the filibuster for judicial nominations so that, technically, it still exists, albeit in a watered-down form.

In Gorsuch's case, Democrats further dramatized their unhappiness by demanding additional procedural votes Thursday.

Democrats still angry over the Senate GOP's refusal to give former President Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, a hearing or vote a year ago vowed to resist Gorsuch's nomination.

In a statement this week, Leahy announced that he would not vote to advance Gorsuch's nomination.

After the change, Gorsuch is expected to be confirmed Friday.


Other reports by iNewsToday

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