Published: Thu, April 20, 2017
U.S. | By Monique Johnson

Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, confirmed by Senate

Neil Gorsuch, Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick, confirmed by Senate

"The confirmation of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court is the culmination of a sordid maneuver by Republican Senators to steal a U.S. Supreme Court nomination from a sitting U.S. President who was a Democrat". The GOP had refused to vet or vote for Judge Merrick Garland, whom President Barack Obama nominated to replace Scalia the following month, according to ABC News. Gorsuch is a conservative judge who will tip the Supreme Court to the conservative side, five justices to four.

This was a major win for President Donald Trump as he promised the Republicans a year ago during his campaign that he would appoint a committed conservative to the post after Justice Antonin Scalia died on February 13, 2016.

The vote mostly went along party lines, although three Democrats - Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly and Heidi Heitkamp - did voted to confirm Gorsuch's nomination.

"[Gorsuch] has sterling credentials, an excellent record, and an ideal judicial temperament", McConnell said in a statement. McConnell is gambling that there will be future vacancies open on the Supreme Court during Trump's term and that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate.

Democrats escalated their attacks against Gorsuch ahead of key votes set for Thursday, portraying him as an ally of the powerful and an enemy of the weak.

FILE - In this March 22, 2017, file photo, Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks during his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington.

He essentially restores the ideological breakdown of the court before Scalia's death, as the justices have generally been split 4-4 for more than a year.

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. Republicans then acted unilaterally to lower the vote threshold on Supreme Court filibusters from 60 to a simple majority in the 100-member Senate. McConnell's reasoning was that a president in his final year should not have the ability to place a justice on the Supreme Court and that the American people should have their voices heard in the 2016 presidential election. The change allows the Senate to proceed to the final vote with a simple majority. If Republicans had not deployed the nuclear option, Mr Gorsuch would have needed to reach 60 votes to be confirmed.

The chamber's majority leader tore up the rulebook after Democrats mounted the first filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in half a century.

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