Divided Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court


Gorsuch is expected to hear arguments in 13 cases.

In a major win for the USA president, Mr Gorsuch was confirmed by 54 votes to 45, after three Democrats voted in favour of the Republican president's nominee. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., a supporter of Gorsuch's, who followed his doctor's advice not to stay in Washington beyond Thursday.

The development was a signal triumph for President Trump, whose campaign a year ago rested in large part on his pledge to appoint another committed conservative to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February 2016. The Republican-led Congress failed to pass legislation he backed to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law that was Democratic former President Barack Obama's signature legislative achievement.

Professor Thomas Lee of Fordham University School of Law predicted that Gorsuch's presence on the closely divided court will not automatically translate into more 5-4 wins for conservatives, at least not in particularly socially controversial cases. He will serve Americans and the Constitution with honor! "This is essential to America's farmers and ranchers as cases affecting their very ability to produce food and fiber reach the nation's highest court".

Republicans exulted in the victory. "He's going to make the American people proud", he said. And indeed, liberal activists have pressed Democratic senators hard on the Gorsuch nomination, threatening some with primary opponents if they voted to allow a quick vote for Gorsuch.

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".

For his part, Trump told reporters Thursday that he could fill as many as four Supreme Court vacancies, and the Senate filibuster change won't affect how he chooses his nominees.

Gorsuch's nomination was controversial from the onset.

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Vice President Mike Pence was present in the Senate chamber to preside over the confirmation vote.

Some Republicans even credit the Supreme Court vacancy as one reason Trump won the November election.

But the court is likely to become even more ideologically divided.

The new justice is also a conservative who adheres to numerous same positions that Scalia did.

Even as they united in indignation, lawmakers of both parties, pulled by fierce political forces from left and right, were unwilling to stop the confirmation rules change. Mitch McConnell invoked the "nuclear option", which changed "Senate rules from needing 60 votes to a 51-vote simple majority on Senate confirmation cloture, or debate", ABC News reports.

McConnell was overruled, but he appealed the ruling. And on that he prevailed on a 52-48 party-line vote.

Justice Gorsuch may also make a difference on petitions to come-such as the emergency appeals of the numerous injunctions issued against President Donald Trump's executive order temporarily suspending travel from terrorist safe-havens.