The Senate confirmed the newest associate justice of the Supreme Court Friday was Neil Gorsuch. He was approved by the Senate by a 54-45 margin, with only three Democrats voting for him.
The nomination faced a tenuous filibuster from the opposition but it was broken when the Senate voted to change the confirmation rules. This procedure, known as the nuclear option, allowed the confirmation to be made by a simple majority of 51 votes rather than 60 needed to override a filibuster. This ended a 14- month vacancy after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
During the last year of President Barack Obama’s term, he attempted to appoint Merrick Garland to the vacant seat. Republicans, holding the majority in the Senate, refused to give him a hearing. This caused a bitter rivalry over the empty seat that spilled over as an election issue in the 2016 presidential race.
On the issue of abortion, Donald Trump promised to appoint a pro-life judge and Hillary Clinton someone who would defend Roe v. Wade. This is President Donald Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee who may serve for life if he so chooses.
Gorsuch is 49 years old and from Colorado.
He is an experienced federal appeals court judge and has served in one circuit court under President George W. Bush since 2006. Gorsuch is an advocate for originalism, meaning he bases his legal interpretation on the original intentions of those who drafted the Constitution. He’s also a textualist, seeing the Constitution as plainly written and to be interpreted literally.
Michael Iachetta, a government professor at Richland, said “He’s so much more qualified than even the people sitting on the bench at this moment.”
On the nuclear option, although its use is unprecedented for the Supreme Court, Iachetta claims it’s not radical. “The Constitution says how many senators you need to confirm a justice and the number is a majority of senators. That’s the constitutional requirement.”