Rep. Kevin Cramer on Gorsuch confirmation

Cheryl Sanders
April 9, 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.

He is President Donald Trump's nominee to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died February 13, 2016, and whose seat has been vacant amid the refusal past year by Republicans to consider President Barack Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland. John McCain said the nuclear option to change Senate rules to allow for a majority vote - instead of the previous 60 required votes to confirm Gorsuch to the court - was something that had to be done.

Republicans were forced to invoke the nuclear option on Thursday to overcome the Democrats' filibuster.

SCOTUS refers to the Supreme Court of the United States. Of the 25 Democratic senators up for re-election next year, 10 are from states that President Donald Trump won, in some cases big, and conservative groups are already targeting them.

Gorsuch, who until his confirmation was based on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado, was confirmed despite harsh Democratic opposition.

McConnell's decision previous year to hold the Supreme Court seat open was seen as a gamble, questioned even by some in his party, but it's now viewed by Republicans as a political master stroke. 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.

Democrats had been filibustering Gorsuch's nomination for several days before the GOP voted to change the confirmation rules. Removing the previous 60-vote threshold means that the majority party has less incentive to find nominees that will garner moderate support and more ideological judges will have an easier path to confirmation in the future when one party holds both the White House and the Senate majority.

"A Supreme Court justice, like Judge Gorsuch, who understands and values our founding documents, and hews closely to their meaning will help ensure that all Americans can continue to prosper and that we, as Catholics, remain free in exercising our religious principles", said Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, policy advisor with The Catholic Association.

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

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

Vice President Mike Pence presided over the final vote Friday, on a day when his tiebreaking vote as president of the Senate was not necessary.

While the court's political leaning is expected to look the same as it did when Scalia served, the court's partisan breakdown could change if liberal justices such as Ruth Bader Ginsburg or Steven Breyer - who are 84 and 78, respectively - retire or die during Trump's presidency.

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