WASHINGTON – After a historic rule change, the Senate voted mostly along party lines, 54-45, to narrowly confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday.
Gorsuch’s confirmation as the high court’s 113th justice marks the end to a bitter partisan battle.
Gorsuch, 49, serves as a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. President Donald Trump nominated him in January to replace Justice Antonin Scalia, who died suddenly on Feb. 13, 2016.
Three Democratic senators – Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota – joined their Republican colleagues to vote “yes” on Gorsuch’s nomination. One Republican senator, Johnny Isakson of Georgia, abstained from the vote.
On Thursday Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell invoked “nuclear option” to stop Senate Democrats’ filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination. The GOP leadership effectively changed Senate rules so that Supreme Court nominees no longer have to win 60 votes but can be confirmed by a 51-vote simple majority.
McConnell had led Republicans in refusing to consider former President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
When asked by TMN on Friday if the Democratic filibuster was merely preparation for when a seat opens up that could change the ideological composition of the court, McConnell responded: “I don’t know. We don’t have another seat right now but [what] I’d like to see after the recess is to get back to some semblance of normalcy.”
“And you’ve watched these all-night sessions on cabinet appointments and a lot of other things that I think are pretty obviously a response to the core base of the Democratic Party, which is still really in deep depression over the outcome of the election, and I think it’s time to move past that,” he added.
Vice President Mike Pence called Gorsuch in Colorado after the vote. Gorsuch is expected to be sworn in on Monday in Washington.