Senate confirms Trump pick Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court


The US Senate has confirmed President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, after a bitter, 14-month battle for control of the highest court in the land.

The final confirmation vote came after Senate Republicans rewrote the rules, voting to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold on Supreme Court nominees.

In a statement after the vote, Arkansas' other Republican senator, John Boozman, said: "It is a shame that my Democrat colleagues forced the Senate to abandon our longstanding tradition by leading a partisan filibuster against a Supreme Court nominee for the first time ever, especially when considering a nominee that is as eminently qualified to serve as Judge Gorsuch".

Gorsuch's rise is a rare bright spot for Trump amid court rulings halting his immigration order, Republicans' inability to agree on an Obamacare repeal, and investigations of potential connections between Russian Federation and Trump's presidential campaign. Although the Republicans enjoy a 52-seat majority in the 100-seat Senate, they still needed eight Democrats to sign on in order to achieve a supermajority totaling 60 votes for cloture. The red hot rumor was that Justice Anthony Kennedy, the Court's swing vote, is preparing to retire. The final vote count was 54 in favor and 45 opposed.

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"When history weighs what happened, the responsibility for changing the rules will fall on the Republicans' and Leader McConnell's shoulders", said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat. Those whispers are growing louder; I've heard (unconfirmed) that McConnell urged his members to "go nuclear' on Gorsuch because Democrats' miscalculation could result in a two-for-one package". There is no way to know how many there will be, if any, but several justices are quite elderly. In exit polls, 21 percent of voters called Supreme Court appointments "the most important factor" for their votes, and among those people 56 percent voted for Trump.

Alito had argued cases in front of the justices, but he said it didn't prepare him for the building's confusing layout or the view from the bench.

But they opted to cut it short - with a recess looming, Gorsuch was set for confirmation during the lunch hour on Friday, allowing senators to start leaving Washington for a two-week recess.

Since then, the Colorado native has endured nine weeks of intense scrutiny, with journalists, lawmakers and legal experts combing through almost every facet of Gorsuch's life - from his college writings and religious beliefs to his decade on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

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The unflinching discipline displayed by McConnell (R-Ky.) in rejecting pleas for a hearing on Judge Merrick Garland enraged Democrats even more and prompted demands for a Gorsuch blockade by their progressive base.

Gorsuch's past appellate court decisions, speeches and writings, and his support from groups like the Federalist Society cast him as a conservative somewhat in Scalia's mold, though he says he's independent and he has yet to rule directly on some hard issues such as a woman's right to an abortion.

The move is likely to fuel ideologically driven nominations from presidents in the future, dealing a powerful blow to the bipartisanship normally seen on Supreme Court nominees.

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