On Friday, the U.S. Senate confirmed Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, the final act in a partisan battle that started with the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. And since Scalia died, the Senate has mishandled the replacement process.
The vote was 54-45 on Friday. The victory gives President Donald Trump’s 49-year-old nominee a lifetime spot on the court. The final confirmation vote came after Senate Republicans rewrote the chamber’s rules, voting to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold on Supreme Court nominees. The change allowed the Senate to proceed to the final vote with a simple majority.
With that move, dubbed the “nuclear option,” Republicans ensured the ruling party in the Senate will always have the final say on a Supreme Court pick.
By many accounts, Gorsuch is qualified to sit on the highest court. The judge is a veteran of the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver whose rulings, the Associated Press notes, make him an intellectual heir to Scalia. It could prove to be more conservative than Scalia.
The AP reported that Democrats denounced the GOP’s use of the nuclear option to put Gorsuch on the court, calling it an epic power grab that would further corrode politics in Congress, the courts and the United States. Many Republicans bemoaned reaching that point, too, but they blamed Democrats for pushing them to pull the trigger.
Senate Democrats possibly misplayed their hand in filibustering the nomination.
A Republican president replacing Scalia with a similarly conservative justice was expected and doesn’t change the balance of power on the…