Posted by 31 January 2017
Today President Donald Trump nominated federal judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. A Colorado native, Judge Gorsuch currently serves on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. President George W. Bush appointed him to that position in 2006.
If approved, Gorsuch will fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by the death of Antonin Scalia early last year. President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to fill that seat, but the Republican majority in the Senate refused to give Garland a committee hearing, much less a vote on the Senate floor. Since then, the Supreme Court has been operating with eight members.
Garland’s nomination expired with the end of the previous session of Congress, giving President Trump an opportunity to name his own nominee for the seat.
Gorsuch will spend the next few weeks meeting with individual senators ahead of his hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Once recommended by the Senate Judiciary Committee, a vote by the full Senate will follow.
The fifty-two Senate Republicans have the simple majority needed to confirm Gorsuch, but Senate Democrats have signaled that they will filibuster the nominee. A successful filibuster would require a supermajority of sixty votes to end debate and force a final vote. If Democrats go this route, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could pursue the “nuclear option” and move to end the ability to filibuster Supreme Court nominees. In 2013, then-Majority Leader Harry Reid did something similar by ending the ability to filibuster lower court nominees.
All eyes are now on the Senators Chuck Grassley and Dianne Feinstein, the chair and ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee. They and the eighteen other committee members will be the first to provide ‘advice and consent’ on President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.