Gorsuch confirmation rolls Supreme Court to the right

Al Drago

Al Drago

Gorsuch's nomination sailed easily through the Senate after Republicans forced a procedural vote known as the "nuclear option", which eliminated the filibuster for all current and future Supreme Court nominees.

"After considering his record, watching his testimony in front of the Judiciary Committee and meeting with him twice, I will vote to confirm him to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court", Manchin said at the time.

And when the justices gather April 17 for their last round of oral arguments, Gorsuch stands to hold the deciding vote in the term's major case involving the separation of church and state.

"This will be the first and last partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nomination", McConnell vowed ahead of Thursday's votes.

Since Trump nominated Gorsuch in January, Republicans have praised the 10th circuit court of appeals judge as a mainstream jurist qualified to sit on the high court. "Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen". But then in 2013, with Democrats in charge and Republicans blocking President Barack Obama's nominees, the Democrats did take the step, removing the filibuster for all presidential appointments except the Supreme Court. Republican Senator Johnny Isakson missed the vote.

In other words, Gorsuch will not be an activist judge who will legislate from the bench, such as when the court of John Roberts mandated same-sex marriage instead of leaving it up to the decision of the 50 states of the Union, and imposed universal healthcare by invoking taxation powers. It takes four votes to do so, though the court does not generally announce each justice's decision.

After he is sworn in, Gorsuch will restore the court's conservative voting majority that existed before Scalia's death, and which could persist for years or even grow over the course of Trump's administration. "I believe he will be a fine addition to the Supreme Court".

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer, who led the opposition to Gorsuch, said he hopes the judge would heed concerns that the court is "increasingly drifting toward becoming a more pro-corporate court that favors employers, corporations and special interests over working America". Gorsuch's Friday confirmation ends a 14-month vacancy on the court following the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

But McConnell and some of his allies argued that they were simply returning to a time not long ago when judicial filibusters were rarely practiced and Supreme Court filibusters essentially unheard of. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York, walks to his office on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, April 6, 2017, as Republican Leader Mitch McConnell is expected to change Senate rules to guarantee confirmation. By late spring or early summer, the court might be asked to consider President Donald Trump's proposed ban on visitors from six majority Muslim countries. Some of those cases may come up April 13, which could be Gorsuch's first private conference - where justices decide whether to hear a case.

Gorsuch will officially be a member of the court once he takes the two oaths.

"In fact, under a certain scenario, there could even be more than that", Trump said.

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