The vote to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch’s Supreme Court nomination on Thursday was blocked by Democratic senators in a 55-45 vote, denying the 60-vote mandate, which paved the way for the “nuclear option” to take place.
The final vote in favor of the nuclear option was 55-45, with senators voting along party lines on whether to change the rules and lower the threshold, allowing the Senate to advance Gorsuch’s confirmation without the 60 votes required and by a simple majority.
In the original vote, Democratic senators Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.) and Michael Bennet (Colo.) voted with Republicans to support Gorsuch, while Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) voted against the judge in a procedural move which will allow him to bring Gorsuch’s nomination back up.
Forty-four Democrats pledged ahead of time to oppose Gorsuch’s nomination.
Senators will typically walk around the Senate floor or leave after voting; but on this day, they stayed put and voted from their desks, denoting a historic occasion.
McConnell said the “first successful partisan filibuster in American history” will now take place, thanks to the actions of the Democratic senators. “It would be a radical move, something completely unprecedented in the history of our Senate, and out of all proportion to the imminently qualified judge who is actually before us.”
Republicans have been threatening to go “nuclear” if Democrats blocked Gorsuch’s confirmation, and McConnell had publicly confirmed that they had enough votes to change the rules.
Gorsuch has received the American Bar Association’s highest rating, but the Democrats in office refused to allow any GOP nominee to join the Supreme Court.
“It really is up to them and to how we should proceed. But, one way or the other, we will confirm Judge Gorsuch,” said Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas).
Democrats have been calling, instead, for a new nominee.
“It doesn’t have to be this way,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.). “When a nominee doesn’t get enough votes for confirmation, the answer is not to change the rules, it’s to change the nominee.”
After holding a 15-hour protest from the Senate floor earlier this week, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) said, “This is just wrong to pack the court through this stolen seat, and that’s why it’s so important that we still in the few hours that we have left, hopefully, stop this real crime against the Constitution.”
Outside groups were engaged in a variety of efforts to target Republicans and persuade them to avoid the nuclear option.
“I know many on the Left think this filibuster is a great thing and are celebrating the opposition to Judge Gorsuch, but the reality is, looking forward, … I think we are going to be looking at a Senate where the ability … to slow down any future, highly partisan Supreme Court nominee will be less and less,” Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) told reporters.
Senator Bennet stated before the vote, “Partisanship should give way to patriotism. If we go down this road, we will undermine the minorities’ ability to check this administration and all those who follow.”
H/T: The Hill
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