Senate confirms Gorsuch to Supreme Court in historic vote

Cheryl Sanders
April 18, 2017

The Senate confirm Gorsuch 54-45 with three Democrats siding with Republicans - Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of IN and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota.

The Democrats who supported Gorsuch were Sen.

Vice President Mike Pence was presiding as the Senate voted 54-45 in favor of Gorsuch, a 49-year-old veteran of the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver whose rulings make him an intellectual heir to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he will fill.

The vote was anti-climatic after Thursday's dramatic decision by Senate Republicans to employ the so-called "nuclear option," eliminating the possibility for a filibuster by minority party senators.

Merkley this week delivered a 15-1/2-hour Senate speech against Gorsuch.


"One notable difference between this nomination and those past is that Trump had clear, stated litmus tests for his nominee", said Elizabeth Wydra, president of the liberal Constitutional Accountability Center, which opposed Gorsuch's confirmation.

Three Democrats crossed party lines to send Judge Neil Gorsuch to the high court.

"As a deep believer in the rule of law, Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction", Trump said in a statement. Manchin is one of three moderate Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won last fall who voted with the Republicans.

"This is a person of extraordinary credentials who will bring honor to the Supreme Court for many, many years to come".

Senate Republicans resorted to extraordinary steps to overcome Democratic opposition to Gorsuch, including changing long-standing Senate rules to prohibit the use of a procedural blockade called a filibuster for Supreme Court nominees.


Both senators supported the filibuster and were angered by the rules change, dubbed the "nuclear option" because of the harm it would do to relations in the Senate. Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the oath to Gorsuch, and hear his first oral arguments at the court a week from Monday. He was nominated by Trump shortly after the January inauguration.

But he has encountered trouble with other major initiatives. His administration also has faced questions about any role the president's associates may have played in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 United States presidential election to help Trump. His ascension will restore the nation's highest court to its 5-4 conservative majority.

The court is also likely to weigh in on whether transgender students are protected under a federal law prohibiting sex discrimination in education. Gorsuch was hailed by gun rights activists, anti-abortion organizations and business groups, and denounced by environmentalists, feminists and unions.

Gorsuch is expected to be sworn in within days, allowing him to join the court for the final weeks of its term, which ends in June.

This term, however, there may be cases that the eight justices have already considered where they reached an impasse but made a decision to hold back any announcement awaiting Gorsuch's confirmation. A church-affiliated school in Missouri is challenging that state's refusal to let it participate in a grant program that provides playground safety materials.


Judge Gorsuch is one of the finest judges our nation has to offer.

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