Senate Democrats Block Gorsuch Nomination, 'Nuclear Option' Up Next

07 April, 2017, 08:01 | Author: Leticia Walters

Senate Republicans on Thursday voted to invoke the so-called "nuclear option" to prevent Democrats from filibustering the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

Next - Once the filibuster is broken, Senate rules allow for up to 30 hours of additional debate time before a final vote on Gorsuch's confirmation.

OR senator Jeff Merkley, who spoke on the Senate floor for 15 hours Tuesday night and Wednesday morning in opposition to the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, said in an interview three years ago that he supported eliminating the 60-vote procedural threshold for High Court nominees regardless of which party controlled Congress and the White House.

His confirmation would preserve a conservative majority on the top court.

Earlier on Thursday, Democrats won a short-lived victory by blocking Gorsuch. Susan Collins of ME to reject Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch and the so-called "nuclear option". If the GOP holds the upper chamber and retakes the White House in 2016, Democrats won't have the 60-vote filibuster available to block controversial nominees. "There is simply no principled reason to oppose this exceptional, exceptional Supreme Court nominee". These changes to Senate procedure can be done by a simple majority vote.

On Jan. 31, President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch, who has served in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit since 2006, to fill Justice Antonin Scalia's seat on the Supreme Court.

Even as Graham and other senior Republicans lamented the voting change, McConnell and some allies argued that all they were doing was returning to a time, not long ago, when filibusters of judicial nominees were unusual, and it was virtually unheard-of to try to block a Supreme Court nominee in that fashion.

"This is the latest escalation in the left's never-ending judicial war, the most audacious yet, and it can not and will not stand", McConnell said.

Merkley spoke through the night, for more than 15 hours, finally stopping midmorning Wednesday with a final plea to colleagues to oppose Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge from Denver.

Gorsuch's final confirmation vote is scheduled for Friday.

"That's why this is an especially sad state of affairs", Grassley said. We've seen his impressive credentials. Four Democrats broke ranks - Sens.

Others focused on the Senate GOP and Republican leadership.

"We believe that what Republicans did to Merrick Garland was worse than a filibuster", Schumer said. "It's interesting because we talk about the nuclear option of changing the rules, but in a very de facto manner, the nuclear option went off the day the majority leader came to the floor and said we're going to conduct ourselves in a totally different way than the Senate's ever conducted itself".

The filibuster will remain in place for common legislation.

He noted that the Republican-led Senate failed to even hold confirmation hearings previous year on Merrick Garland, Obama's pick to fill the seat, which opened when the conservative justice Antonin Scalia died in February 2016.

What exactly is the nuclear option?

The rules change means nominees will need only a bare majority of votes to reach the high court, instead of the 60 required for cloture, or limiting the endless debate known as a filibuster.

Gorsuch, the man caught in the middle of the bitter partisan fight, is expected to become the nation's 113th Supreme Court justice soon after the procedural maneuvering ends on Friday.

The cerebral 49-year-old judge has expressed great admiration for Scalia, and shares the late justice's conservative views on how to interpret the Constitution.


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