Published: Sun, April 09, 2017
USA | By Yvette Dunn

Gorsuch heads for confirmation as Senate tears up own rules

The US Senate has confirmed President Trump's Supreme Court nominee, after a bitter, 14-month battle for control of the highest court in the land.

The Senate change, affecting how many votes a nominee needs to advance to a final confirmation vote, will apply to all future Supreme Court candidates as well.

Republicans were set to immediately move to hold a vote on changing longstanding Senate rules in order to prohibit filibusters against Supreme Court nominees.

Short of the 60 votes needed in the 100-seat Senate to press ahead, Republicans, led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, changed parliamentary rules for Supreme Court nominees, lowering the threshold to a simple majority. They said Gorsuch was a well-qualified nominee who deserved an up-or-down vote, and they pointed the finger at Democrats for playing politics with the Senate and its institutional legacy. Instead, McConnell kept Scalia's seat open, a calculation that is now paying off hugely for Republicans and Trump, who will be able to claim the biggest victory of his presidency to date if Gorsuch is confirmed as expected.

They are angry over the Republican blockade previous year of President Barack Obama's nominee for the same seat, Merrick Garland. "It didn't have to be this way", said Majority Leader Sen.

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Michigan's two U.S. Senators, Debbie Stabenow, D-Lansing, and Gary Peters, D-Bloomfield Twp., did not support Gorsuch's nomination.

The conservative appellate judge from Colorado will ascend to the nation's highest court, filling the seat left vacant for more than a year since the death of Antonin Scalia. After the Supreme Court, with Scalia in the majority, struck down key elements of the Voting Rights Act, North Carolina enacted tough new restrictions. Last year, they wouldn't even give President Obama's nominee Merrick Garland a hearing. Both had been vigorous supporters of his nomination since the night President Donald Trump announced the pick.

"On behalf of our five million members, the NRA congratulates Neil Gorsuch on his confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court", said Chris W. Cox, executive director, NRA-ILA. "The confirmation process was certainly a significant undertaking".

"I do suspect that later on we will have wished we hadn't done it", he said. The filibuster as a tool for the minority to block legislative action remains intact. Some of the first cases Gorsuch could be expected to hear are on housing discrimination and workers' rights.

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