Capitol Correspondence - 04.10.17

Gorsuch Sworn in as Supreme Court Justice after Senate Deploys “Nuclear” Rules Change

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On April 10, Neil Gorsuch was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, filling the seat left vacant by Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. Gorsuch’s nomination was filibustered by Senate Democrats, prompting Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) last week to deploy the “nuclear option” and change the Senate rules to require only a simple majority, rather than a 3/5 majority, to move a Supreme Court nominee to a full floor vote. A similar rules change was made in 2013 by Senate Democrats in order to advance lower federal court judge nominees. The filibuster remains in place for legislation, for the moment, but is no longer an option to block judicial nominees. 
Free of the cloture rules requiring 60 Senate votes to advance a Supreme Court nominee, the Senate voted 54 to 45 in favor of Gorsuch’s confirmation on Friday. Now that Gorsuch has been confirmed and sworn in, he will take his place on the high court, which now has the full bench of nine justices present to hear cases. New oral arguments are scheduled for next week.