Perdue backs Gorsuch in Senate vote, Isakson supports from home

Cheryl Sanders
April 8, 2017

The Republican-led U.S. Senate was poised on Friday to confirm President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, conservative appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, providing the president with his first major victory since taking office in January. But unfortunately, even Senate Democrats who issued a half-throated vote for Gorsuch in the end, refused to vote with the Majority to invoke the so-called "nuclear option" - a display of solidarity meant to appease the Warren/Sanders faction of the Democrat party.

On Thursday, they successfully filibustered Gorsuch using a 60-vote cloture rule that prompted Republicans to undo the threshold, upending long-standing Senate tradition.

His administration also has faced questions about any role his associates may have played in Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election to help Trump. And since he's only 49 years old, Gorsuch is expected to serve on the bench for decades. In exit polls, 21 percent of voters called Supreme Court appointments "the most important factor" to their vote, and among those people 56 percent voted for Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, speaking with reporters before Friday's vote, said blocking then-President Barack Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, and holding the seat open for this president, was one of the "most consequential decisions I've been involved in". All of the remaining Democrats voted against the Gorsuch nomination; they were joined by two Independents - Angus King of ME and Bernie Sanders of Vermont.

"Judge Gorsuch is an unwavering supporter of the United States Constitution, and the best person to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left by Justice Antonin Scalia", he later said in a statement.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refused to hold a hearing for Obama's nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland, for almost a year - an action that continues to galvanise Democrats. Later Monday, Justice Anthony Kennedy will ask his former law clerk and new colleague to take the second oath in a public ceremony at the White House. The move allowed Gorsuch to secure the confirmation with a simple majority, rather than the 60 votes needed to shut down a filibuster. There is no way to know how many there will be, if any, but several justices are quite elderly. And yet in many ways the showdown had been pre-ordained, the final chapter in years of partisan warfare over judicial nominees.

The rules change came after Senate Democrats successfully blocked his nomination with the filibuster in place.

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