US Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch to America's top court

Senator Stages Overnight Protest Against Gorsuch

Visitors arrive at the Supreme Court as the Senate votes to confirm President Donald Trump's high court nominee Neil Gorsuch. Susan Collins of ME and Democratic Sen.

After weeks of turmoil, the Senate confirmed Trump nominee Neil Gorsuch as the Supreme Court's youngest justice Friday, filling a 14-month vacancy after the death of Antonin Scalia and restoring a rightward tilt that could last for years.

"He has sterling credentials, an excellent record, and an ideal judicial temperament", he said.

That paved the way for Gorsuch's confirmation vote Friday, but left lawmakers of both parties bemoaning the undoing of comity in the Senate and warning that the 60-vote filibuster barrier on regular legislation, a key tool to force bipartisan cooperation, could be next to go.

The final confirmation vote came after Senate Republicans rewrote the rules, voting to eliminate the 60-vote filibuster threshold on Supreme Court nominees. President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch - a federal judge from Colorado's 10th Circuit Court of Appeals who is considered an "originalist" - to fill the seat.

Justices are appointed for life, and Gorsuch, who is only 49, could serve for decades on the high court. Republican Senator Johnny Isakson missed the vote.

In 2005, with the Senate under GOP control, Republicans prepared to utilize the "nuclear option" to remove the filibuster for lower-court nominees.

"We are mindful of the unique role the Senate plays in the legislative process, and we are steadfastly committed to ensuring that this great American institution continues to serve as the world's greatest deliberative body", said the letter that was sent to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York. The rule change was dubbed the "nuclear option" because it was considered an extreme break from Senate tradition.

Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the constitutional oath to Mr Gorsuch in a private ceremony in the justices' conference room.

Following the confirmation, the social justice group Bend the Arc Jewish Action said the Senate had "made a serious and deeply troubling error" in invoking the nuclear option. Trump has recorded accomplishments since taking office on January 20, including a variety of unilateral executive actions such as moving to undo Obama's climate change regulations.

"Certainly this is an important day in the history of the Senate and in the Supreme Court", McConnell told reporters. His administration also has faced questions about any role the president's associates may have played in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 US presidential election to help Trump.

Previously, Supreme Court nominees needed 60 votes to proceed to the Senate floor for a full vote. The court did not give a time for the White House event. He can then prepare for the court's next session of oral arguments, starting on April 17.

The justices will meet privately on Thursday to accept or reject cases for next term - among them a petition from gun-rights activists asking the court to find for the first time that the Second Amendment right to keep a gun for self-defense extends to carrying firearms outside the home.

Gorsuch will officially be sworn in on Monday morning and can immediately begin hearing cases. And it was cause for celebration for conservatives, who have often seemed willing to forgive various Trump failings next to the chance to win this lifetime appointment to the most important court on the land.

On April 19, the court will hear a religious rights case in which a church contends Missouri violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom by denying it funds for a playground project due to a state ban on aid to religious organizations.

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