The Senate has just reached the voting threshold that would allow Neil Gorsuch, the 49-year-old federal judge whose nomination to the Supreme Court cause a war between Democrats and Republicans, to be confirmed.
The court has been operating with eight justices since the sudden death in February 2016 of Justice Antonin Scalia and a protracted fight over President Barack Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland.
Senate Republicans refused to consider Garland’s nomination until after the November election, and as revenge the Dems filibustered the Gorsuch vote. The Republicans retaliated by using the nuclear option, which allowed the senate to confirm the Denver judge with a simple majority.
Gorsuch’s confirmation essentially continues the ideological balance that existed before Scalia’s death, with four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote between the blocs.
“He has sterling credentials, an excellent record and an ideal judicial temperament,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. “He has the independence of mind for fairness”
The vote passed 54-45. Vice President Mike Pence presided over the vote, but was not needed to break a tie.
Gorsuch will be sworn in as the 101st Associate Justice of the Supreme Court when President Trump returns to Washington on Monday, April 10, at 9 AM.