The Senate on Friday confirmed (54-45) Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court. Gorsuch, who was unable to get 60 senators to vote for cloture and end debate on his nomination, was approved after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R. Ky., changed Senate rules.
“The confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is an unhappy day to those Americans committed to justice and equality for all. His confirmation will forever be tainted by the Republican Senate majority’s callous disregard for the historic rules and traditions of the Senate,” said Wade Henderson, president and CEO of The Leadership Conference, in a statement after Gorsuch’s confirmation. “When it became clear that the nominee, backed by the Heritage Foundation, the Federalist Society and other right-wing special interest groups, could not meet the 60-vote threshold, Leader McConnell kowtowed to President Trump and altered the protections of the minority party by changing the rules in the middle of the game.”
President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch on January 31, and the Senate Judiciary Committee held four days of hearings beginning March 20. The committee advanced his nomination (11-9) on Monday, April 3, and McConnell moved immediately the following day to end floor debate on his nomination. When Gorsuch couldn’t attract 60 votes to end debate, Henderson said that the “failure by the Senate Republicans to secure 60 votes to move forward on President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court speaks to the flaws of Judge Gorsuch, not the rules of the Senate.”
Nevertheless, with a party-line vote, Senate Republicans changed the rules to allow Gorsuch’s nomination to proceed.
Civil and human rights organizations strongly opposed his confirmation, noting that he would tip the balance of the Court in a direction that would undermine many core rights and legal protections.
Gorsuch was the second person nominated to fill this Supreme Court vacancy. After the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016, President Obama nominated Chief Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat. Senate Republicans, led by McConnell, refused to even hold a hearing on Garland’s nomination – even though Obama had nearly a year left in office.
“It is patently unfair and deeply disappointing that those who abused Senate rules to block President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland and then changed Senate rules to approve Judge Gorsuch will be rewarded for their bad behavior,” Henderson said. “The American people should long remember these alarming and unprecedented actions.”
Gorsuch was sworn in on Monday during two ceremonies at the Court and White House Rose Garden.