Neil Gorsuch, 49, was confirmed to the Supreme Court of the United States on April 7, filling the late Justice Antonin Scalia‘s seat, open since his death in February 2016. Gorsuch’s confirmation comes after Senate Republicans used the controversial nuclear option on April 6, allowing them to shockingly change Senate rules that paved through Democrats’ filibuster.
Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation came courtesy of 54 votes, 51 from GOP senators, and three Democrats. Only 51 votes were needed for confirmation. The three Democratic senators who voted in Gorsuch’s favor were: Heidi Keitkamp, ND, Joe Manchin III, W.VA., and Joe Donnelly, IN.
All but four Democratic senators voted in favor of the filibuster to block the confirmation vote on April 6, leading to the GOP deploying the rarely-used option, which not only allowed the Gorsuch vote, but could dramatically change how future high court confirmations are made in the future; all it could take for future Supreme Court nominee to get confirmed to the bench could be a simple majority, rather than the current necessary 60 votes — which is what happened today.
Gorsuch was nominated to the bench by President Donald Trump on January 31, 2017, just 11 days after his inauguration. Gorsuch is a conservative judge who will tip the Supreme Court to the conservative side, five justices to four. Democratic senators are concerned about his ruling record as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, where he ruled conservatively on cases regarding religious freedom and civil rights. (Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell).
His history of putting religious liberties before individual’s access to birth control and women’s health services is alarming in a government that’s already attempting to take away those services altogether. While he’s a well-liked man, he’s refused to answer questions about his judicial history and constitutional rulings during his Senate confirmation hearings.
While Trump has complained that Gorsuch’s confirmation has been drawn out, former President Barack Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court shortly after Justice Scalia’s death in 2016, and was repeatedly blocked until he left office. Republicans refused to even hold hearings for Garland’s nomination.
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