Today (April 7), the Republican-dominated U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to be the 113th justice of the Supreme Court with a 54-45 vote. The confirmation took an unusual course over the past two days.
Democrats filibustered the nomination yesterday, denying Gorsuch supporters the 60 votes they needed to move to a final vote. In a move observers and individual lawmakers have characterized as the death knell of any possible bipartisanship in the Senate, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) changed the body's rules of Supreme Court nominations, using what is called the “nuclear option.” That option paved the way for Gorsuch supporters to break the Democrats' filibuster and confirm the judge with a simple majority vote. That vote occurred this afternoon, primarily along party lines, with the New York Times reporting that three Democrats–Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin III (W.Va.) and Senator Joe Donnelly (Ind.)—joined their Republican counterparts in confirming Gorsuch.
Gorsuch will fill the seat left vacant after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. In the last days of the Obama Administration, Senate Republicans refused to even hold confirmation hearings for Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland. Scalia was the longest-running justice and an outspoken conservative.
Civil society organizations have consistently opposed Gorsuch’s nomination for his conservative viewpoints on reproductive rights, LGBTQ equality, and criminal justice. Here are some of the reactions to today’s confirmation vote:
— Civil Rights (@civilrightsorg) April 7, 2017
— NARAL (@NARAL) April 7, 2017
— The Task Force (@TheTaskForce) April 7, 2017
Gorsuch, who is 49, could serve decades on the Supreme Court and play an influential role in shaping its jurisprudence.