JOSEPH DIBACCO ’19
On his 78th day in office, President Trump earned his first major win with the Senate confirming his Supreme Court nomination, Judge Neil Gorsuch. The victory did come with an odd twist, however: the Supreme Court filibuster, something that goes all the way back to our nation’s first Congress, was eliminated before Judge Gorsuch was confirmed with a 54 to 45 Senate vote. Trump won the support of 51 Republicans and 3 moderate Democrats, all 3 of whom are up for re-election next year in states that Trump won.
This is also a major political victory for Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell who infuriated Democrats in 2016 by refusing to hold hearings for President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination, Judge Merrick Garland. Now, a conservative majority is safely restored in the Supreme Court, something that will be important for President Trump’s political and legislative success during his time in office.
On Thursday, the Senate floor housed an intense battle between the majority Republicans and minority Democrats, who mounted a filibuster, initially denying the 60 votes Gorsuch needed to be confirmed. The Republicans, however, acted decisively in reducing the minimum number of votes needed from 60 to a simple majority, a move that ultimately ensured victory for them.
President Trump, exultant in the aftermath of Gorsuch’s confirmation, remarked, “His judicial temperament, exceptional intellect, unparalleled integrity, and record of independence makes him the perfect choice to serve on the nation’s highest court.”
Called by both sides of the political spectrum a “nuclear option”, the Republicans’ decision to lower the necessary number of votes needed from 60 to a simple majority will potentially have repercussions for years to come. Essentially, making the move to a simple majority takes away what little power the minority has in impacting the ratification process. Republican Senator John McCain of Arizona commented, “I am very concerned about the future, which will then, with only a 51-vote majority required, lead to polarization of the nominees as far as their philosophies are concerned, when the majority does not have to consider the concerns and the votes of the minority.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York believes the decision will make the Supreme Court a more partisan place as well. He too voiced concerns about taking away the voice of the minority party in the Senate regarding Supreme Court nominations.
Despite the rocky start to Trump’s presidency, Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation is now Trump’s legacy. Gorsuch, only 49 years old, will potentially serve on the Court for 30 or more years.
Judge Neil M. Gorsuch has the typical background of a Supreme Court Justice. With degrees from Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford, Gorsuch has had experience with a prestigious Washington law firm and in the Justice Department. He also served in the United States Court of Appeals in the 10th Circuit in Denver for a decade.
Gorsuch will be sworn in on Monday at two ceremonies, one private and one public. The private swearing in will take place at the Supreme Court, presided over by Chief Justice John Roberts, Jr., and the public ceremony will be at the White House, where a second oath will be administered to Gorsuch by Justice Anthony Kennedy.
JOSEPH DIBACCO ’19