Along largely partisan lines, the Senate approved President Trump’s nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court as its 113th justice. The vote was 54-45. The 49-year-old Gorsuch was adamantly opposed by Democrats. He served on the bench of 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, having been nominated to the court by Barack Obama and approved by a Senate controlled by the Democrats.
The Supreme Court thus has a full complement of nine justices for the first time since the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin, Joe Donnelly, Heidi Heitkamp joined their Republicans in approving Gorsuch's nomination. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) did not vote. Gorsuch had been adamantly opposed by Democrats who were still perturbed by the refusal of the Republican-controlled Senate to consider Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland in 2016. Sen. Mitch McConnell and fellow Republicans refused to consider Garland in the Senate, having argued that the next president elected should choose the nominee. With the unexpected victory by Trump, the Republicans garnered another victory by the approval of Gorsuch.
On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader McConnell decided to resort to the so-called "nuclear option" in order to circumvent the Senate Democrats’ filibuster. He thus changed Senate parliamentary rules that had required a vote of 60 votes to approve a Supreme Court nominee instead of a 51-vote simple majority on Senate confirmation cloture, or debate.
Sen. McConnell called it "a proud day." He also thanked Trump as "the man who made this moment possible by sending us this outstanding nominee."
"I want to congratulate Judge Gorsuch on this significant achievement. We look forward to observing his good work in the years to come," McConnell said. "
Commenting on the confirmation, attorney James S. Burling of the Pacific Legal Foundation said in a statement, "Justice Gorsuch's confirmation matters very much to all of us." Burling continued, saying, "He will help determine how much power belongs to the bureaucrats and how much is retained by the people. He will help decide what our laws actually mean. And he will rule on which laws undermine our liberties, and which do not.”
He added that is PLF’s hope that “... Justice Gorsuch never loses sight of the fundamental principles upon which our republic was founded: Power ultimately rests in the people and the role of government is to secure our liberties rather than threaten them."
Pacific Legal Foundation is a nonprofit law firm that, according to its website, is a “powerful ally for justice, litigates in courts nationwide for limited government, property rights, individual liberty, and a balanced approach to environmental regulations.”