After more than a year of bickering, lawmakers have finally filled the late Antonin Scalia’s seat on the US Supreme Court with Colorado native Neil M. Gorsuch.
Gorsuch, formerly a judge of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, has a reputation for being a “mainstream” conservative. He’s a stickler for the Constitution’s exact wording and is big on religious freedom. Gorsuch has massive support from anti-abortion groups, who often cite his decisions in the now-famous Hobby Lobby and Sisters of the Poor cases.
The soon-to-be Supreme Court justice has promised to take an apolitical approach to the law. “There is no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” he said.
At age 49, Gorsuch will be the youngest member of the current Supreme Court; he could easily remain in the position for 30 or more years.
Gorsuch’s path to confirmation lasted 65 days, which NPR’s Nina Totenberg points out is “relatively short by modern standards.” His confirmation was achieved after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s historic decision to use the “nuclear option” to stop the Dems’ filibustering.
The filibuster was an understandable act of revenge following GOP lawmakers’ refusal to even consider Obama’s SCOTUS nominee.
The rules change, which passed along party lines with a vote of 52-48, means that future presidential nominees for executive branch positions and federal courts need only a majority vote to be confirmed by the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) worries the rules change will make both the Senate and the Supreme Court “a more partisan place.”
McConnell said the “decision to let the president being elected last year pick the Supreme Court nominee” was “the most consequential decision I’ve ever been involved in.”
The final vote was 54-45, with 3 moderate Democrats joining 51 Republicans to confirm Gorsuch. He will be sworn in on April 10th.
“He has sterling credentials, an excellent record and an ideal judicial temperament,” said McConnell. “He has the independence of mind for fairness.”
His confirmation is “one of the most transparent and accessible in history, and his judicial temperament, exceptional intellect, unparalleled integrity, and record of independence makes him the perfect choice to serve on the Nation’s highest court,” said President Donald Trump
Gorsuch’s confirmation is a huge success for the Trump Administration, and many of Trump’s most aggressive plans (like the border wall) will depend on the Supreme Court.
Update: Gorsuch has been sworn in. He should have an almost immediate effect on the court.