Democrats Block Trump's Supreme Court Pick

Bruno Cirelli
Aprile 21, 2017

Three Senate Democrats backed Gorsuch: Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., who is recovering from back surgery, was absent for the vote.

After he is sworn in, Gorsuch will restore the court's conservative voting majority that existed before Scalia's death. "I believe he will serve the American people well."??

Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said he hopes Gorsuch will prove to be a justice who stands up for average Americans rather than corporate interests.

The 54-45 vote, overseen by Vice President Mike Pence, fulfills Trump's promise to select a conservative jurist to fill the seat once held by the late Antonin Scalia and it ensures the nine-member court will maintain its rightward bent for the foreseeable future.

Friday's vote won't put Gorsuch on the high court immediately. Later that day, there'll be a public event at the White House where Gorsuch, 49, will take a judicial oath with Justice Anthony Kennedy.

He will attend his first private conference with his new colleagues Thursday and sit for the next round of oral arguments that begins April 17 - including an important case on the separation of church and state that's been delayed for months, presumably because of the risk of a 4-4 tie vote.

While the final outcome was never in serious doubt, the confirmation process became a bitter battle in the Senate, one that had as much to do with partisan grudges as the nominee himself.

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

Justices take two oaths, one required by the Constitution and the other set by federal law. This decision wasn't some benevolent action to preserve democracy, it was to erode it.

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

And that change could have far-ranging impacts for the future of the court itself.

"It is for this nominee that Senate Republicans have brought us to this precipice", Leahy said in a floor speech earlier this week. "His confirmation continues the rightward march of the Roberts Court, which has already staked out pro-big-business stances at the expense of everyday people".

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican senators enacted the so-called "nuclear option" on Thursday to sidestep a Democratic filibuster that was fueled by outrage over the GOP's refusal to meet with former President Barack Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, before President Donald Trump won the election.

He earned his BA from Columbia University in 1988, and a law degree from Harvard Law School in 1991.

He also spent part of his youth in Washington when his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, served in the Reagan administration as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices before embarking on a legal career that included a high-ranking Justice Department post.

Scalia was a strict adherent to the philosophy of originalism, the belief that the Constitution should be interpreted in terms of what the authors meant at the time of ratification.

Gorsuch will be the 113th judge to sit on the nation's highest court. Republicans control the Senate, 52-48, and the rule change was approved by that margin.

Democrats consistently tried to tie Gorsuch to Trump, suggesting he won't be independent from the President who nominated him.

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