Neil Gorsuch, the 49-year-old federal judge nominated by President Donald Trump as supreme court justice, was confirmed to the life-long position on Friday, restoring a conservative majority to the nine-member USA supreme court.
Presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, the 54-45 near party-line vote caps a partisan saga that has seen Republicans pursue a rule change widely regarded as the "nuclear option".
The U.S. Senate on Friday narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch. McConnell, R-Ky., immediately responded, as expected, by leading his Republicans in a unilateral rules change to lower the vote threshold for Supreme Court nominees from 60 to a simple majority in the 100-member Senate.
"Judge Gorsuch's confirmation process was one of the most transparent and accessible in history, and his judicial temperament, exceptional intellect, unparalleled integrity and record of independence makes him the ideal choice to serve on the nation's highest court", Trump said in a statement. On Thursday, Republican Senators invoked the "nuclear option" to break a Democratic filibuster, a move that could echo for years. "I am proud to join a bipartisan majority of the United States Senate to confirm him to this position for which he is so well qualified". Joe Donnelly. All three are moderate Democrats from conservative states.
Reid told the Review-Journal a year ago that he did not regret the change, noting that it allowed Democrats to seat judges on lower courts and confirm Obama administration appointees who were tied up by GOP opposition.
Supreme Court justices are appointed to life terms. The 60-vote filibuster requirement on Supreme Court nominees was effectively gone, and with it the last vestige of bipartisanship on presidential nominees in an increasingly polarized Senate.
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The Supreme Court now has a full complement of nine judges for the firsttime since February 2016, when Justice Antonin Scalia died.
Among the groups congratulating Gorsuch on his confirmation were the U.S. Chamber of Commerce business lobbying group, the National Rifle Association gun rights group and anti-abortion activists.
Beginning Tuesday evening, Merkley held a 15-hour speech on the U.S. Senate floor to oppose Gorsuch - one of the longest speeches in Senate history.
Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma said of McConnell's tactic: "No. 1, it's courageous". Trump himself predicted to reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday that "there could be as many as four" Supreme Court vacancies for him to fill during his administration.
"A Supreme Court justice, like Judge Gorsuch, who understands and values our founding documents, and hews closely to their meaning will help ensure that all Americans can continue to prosper and that we, as Catholics, remain free in exercising our religious principles", said Dr. Grazie Pozo Christie, policy advisor with The Catholic Association.