After a Supreme Court vacancy of more than a year, on Friday April 7, Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, of Colorado’s 10th Circuit of Appeals was confirmed 54-45 to fill the Associate Justice seat held by Antonin Scalia who passed away in February, 2016. The votes were cast on party lines with all Republicans and three Democrats voting affirmatively.
Gorsuch’s confirmation, which was made possible through Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell deploying the so-called “nuclear option” which enabled confirmation through a simple majority instead of the previous threshold of 60 votes, follows months of a contentiousness between Republicans and Democrats who were upset that President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland never received a hearing.
Gorsuch, who holds the originalist view of the Constitution espoused by Justice Scalia restores the conservative-liberal balance of the court. Gorsuch who once served as a clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy will be the first Supreme Court justice to serve along side a justice for whom he previously clerked.
Gorsuch will be sworn in on Monday, April 10.
One of his first cases will be Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Pauley, which is reported to be one of the biggest church-state cases in recent history.
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