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April 7, 2017

Neil Gorsuch confirmed to Supreme Court following rules change

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  • The Senate confirmed U.S. Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch Friday in a 54-45 vote, following a contentious week of opposition from Democrats prompted Republicans to change Senate rules in order to push the vote through.
  • Gorsuch, a judge from the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, restores the Supreme Court’s conservative majority.
  • Earlier in the week, Democrats attempted to block Gorsuch’s confirmation by filibustering. Republicans responded by invoking the “nuclear option,” changing Senate rules so that Supreme Court nominees can now be confirmed by a simple majority of 51 votes, rather than the 60 votes previously required.
  • Both sides mourned the rule change as the final step in eroding the Senate’s tradition of bipartisan collaboration on presidential nominees and blamed the other for bringing it to pass. Republicans insisted Democrats left them no choice, while Democrats said the Supreme Court will now be more partisan in the future as a result.
  • Democrats remain bitter over Republicans’ refusal last year to give President Barack Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a Senate hearing after Justice Antonin Scalia’s death — a move that left a seat on the court open for more than a year.
  • In the end, three moderate Democrats ended up voting for Gorsuch in addition to the Senate’s 51 Republicans. Gorsuch will be sworn in as the 101st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court on Monday.

  1. Essential question: Why do legislative bodies have rules that govern voting procedure?
  2. Why do Senators on both sides of the political aisle fear this rules change will cause the Senate and Supreme Court to become more partisan?
  3. What reasons did Democrats give for opposing Gorsuch’s nomination?
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