• R.F Wittmeyer
  • April 14, 2017

On Friday, April 7th, after more than thirty hours of debate, the Senate confirmed Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, with a final tally of 54-45 in favor of confirmation, who is now the 113th justice of the Supreme Court. For over a year, the Supreme Court has only had eight justices because of a political battle over who was going to sit on the bench. President Donald Trump appointed Justice Neil Gorsuch after committing to appointing a conservative to the bench after Justice Scalia died last February. The new justice may serve for over three decades.

How Did the Senate Confirm the New Supreme Court Justice?

About a year ago, Senate Republicans refused to even consider President Barack Obama’s choice of a Supreme Court Justice. Therefore, for over a year, the  Supreme Court only had eight Justices on the bench. This led the democrats in the Senate to launch a filibuster against Gorsuch, which denied him the 60 votes that he needed to get to a final vote. The majority leader of the Senate then decided to change the rules of the Senate by lowering the threshold to end a debate from 60 to 51 votes. Republicans called this the “nuclear option,” which lowered the threshold on nominations to the Supreme Court to a majority vote to 51.

What is the Lasting Impact of the “Nuclear Option”?

By employing the nuclear option, the Senate basically made it impossible for anyone to filibuster a Supreme Court nominee. The Democrats utilized a similar “nuclear option” to vote through lower court and executive branch nominees. Now, all Presidential nominees will have a much easier way to get through a Senate confirmation process. It might make it easier for future presidents to appoint very biased nominees in the future.  Those who oppose the nuclear option feared that the Senate will also eliminate the legislative filibuster. But critics of the filibuster believe that the Senate abuses the filibuster and makes it harder for the Senate to pass new legislation.

Why Did Democrats Oppose Neil Gorsuch?

Democrats had several reasons for opposing the appointment of the new Supreme Court Justices. First of all, the treatment of President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, upset many as they never even considered his nomination. Justice Gorsuch also may have a very conservative judicial philosophy. If the majority of the Supreme Court judges are conservatives, then it will be less likely that challenges to President Trump’s new policies and other actions will be overturned by the Supreme Court. Additionally, Justice Neil Gorsuch’s answers did not satisfy most Democrats during the confirmation hearings.

About Justice Neil Gorsuch

Neil Gorsuch was born in Colorado. He is the son of the first female administrator of the United States Environmental Protection Agency. Judge Neil Gorsuch is very similar to other Supreme Court Justices on the bench. He is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard, and even Oxford. He als served as a Supreme Court law clerk. Then he practiced the law with a law firm in Washington. For a period of time, heworked for the Justice Department. Most recently, he served as an appellate Judge in the 10th Circuit. As a Judge, he was widely admired, and during the confirmation hearings, he refused to show any biases. Instead, he claimed that, as a judge, he was to serve neutral legal principles.

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