US Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court justice

Cheryl Sanders
April 9, 2017

Amid a process poised to have a long-lasting impact on the U.S. Senate, Judge Neil Gorsuch secured confirmation Friday to serve as an associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

The final confirmation vote on Gorsuch is expected Friday, and he should be sworn in soon to hear the final cases of the term.

The three Democrats who voted for Gorsuch were North Dakota's Heidi Heitkamp, West Virginia's Joe Manchin and Indiana's Joe Donnelly - all moderate Democrats facing challenging reelection bids next year in red states. Johnny Isakson of Georgia did not vote.

"A federal court appointment, generally an appointment for life is different than someone who serves during the tenure of the president".

Following the confirmation vote, Republicans congratulated Gorsuch and praised the Trump nominee's record. That was the so-called nuclear option.

"The practical result of where we are now is we're back to where we were as late as 2000", said McConnell, pointing out that even Clarence Thomas got onto the court without a filibuster, despite highly contentious confirmation hearings regarding sexual harassment claims from Anita Hill. "He's going to make the American people proud".

Justice Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who sometimes sides with the four liberals, will remain the court's swing vote. That was successful only briefly, as Gorsuch fell five votes short.

Gorsuch will be sworn in Monday and will quickly begin confronting cases of effect, including one involving separation of church and state that the justices will take up in less than two weeks. Gorsuch will replace Scalia, and both judges were considered to be textualists and originalists, viewing the Constitution as the founders had intended their words to be understood at the time those words were written. And it will give President Trump his first major achievement amid imbroglios over health care, immigration and the White House's ties to Russian Federation.

Republicans and their conservative allies were in celebration mode as the clock ticked down to the final vote Friday.

Gorsuch told the committee, "I have offered no promises on how I'd rule in any case to anyone, and I don't think it's appropriate for a judge to do so". His textualist and originalist judicial philosophies are expected to return a conservative, 5-4 majority to the court, which has operated with only eight members since the death of Antonin Scalia in February 2016. Gorsuch "believes deeply in neutral, impartial decision-making, and he is deeply committed to a Constitution whose limits on judicial and government power inextricably intertwine with the preservation of human freedom". You're on the Supreme Court. Poised to obtain the majority in Congress and the presidency, Republicans refused to consider then-President Barack Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland. He is a graduate of Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and Oxford University, where he earned a doctorate in legal philosophy.

The outcome was a major victory for Trump, his first big congressional win. That "nuclear option" would destroy what's left of the Senate as a deliberative body, eliminating a staple of American democracy that has existed in some form since 1789 to forge consensus.

Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said of McConnell's tactic: "No. 1, it's courageous".

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