The Senate affirmed the “nuclear option” on Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court confirmation on Thursday. The move eliminates the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees, clearing way for President Trump’s conservative pick.
The decision could change the Senate and court for decades, as “the nuclear option” removes a 60-vote filibuster requirement for Gorsuch, who is now expected to be confirmed on Friday. However, the move also eliminates the filibuster for future court picks.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wanted to change the rules based on a precedent set by Senate Democrats back in 2013 when they used a similar tactic to help lower court and executive branch nominations receive confirmation.
Democrats had long vowed to fight the appointment. Last year, Barack Obama named Merrick Garland, chief justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit, to fill Scalia’s vacancy. The Republican-led Senate refused to hold a hearing or vote on his nomination until after the election.
“I have selected an individual whose qualities define, really and I mean closely define, what we’re looking for,” Trump of Gorsuch in January.
Gorsuch is a conservative known as a strict originalist in interpreting the Constitution like Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he would fill when confirmed. Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush in May 2006. He would be the youngest nominee to the Supreme Court in the last 25 years.
A graduate of Harvard Law School with a Ph.D. from Oxford University, he clerked for prominent conservative judges such as Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit Judge David Sentelle, and Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.