AFTER tensions flew over who’d replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed on Friday, April 7 as the 113th justice of the nation’s highest court.
In a Senate vote that was largely based on party, Gorsuch, 49, was confirmed with a 54-45 in favor of, with Vice President Mike Pence casting a voluntary final vote as Senate president.
President Donald Trump nominated the Republican judge — who sat on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals — just over two months ago. During his 20-hour confirmation hearing, the Democratic senators who questioned him criticized him for evading questions.
What was proven, however, was that he will likely vote conservatively, shifting the power of the court to the conservative bloc of justices, 5-4.
The Supreme Court has been divided on contentious issues in the past year including the tie on former President Barack Obama’s immigration executive order.
However, the court has pending cases that, if ruled according to party with Gorsuch on the bench, would expand gun rights, uphold state voting restrictions that many say disenfranchise minority voters and allow private businesses to refuse service to gay couples on the grounds of religion.
Gorsuch’s confirmation is a big win for the Trump administration which has been burdened by Senate investigations into possible Russian ties during the presidential campaign and the failed healthcare bill and Obamacare replacement, the American Health Care Act, among other controversies.
In a statement, Trump hailed Gorsuch for his “judicial temperament, exceptional intellect, unparalleled integrity, and record of independence.”
“As a deep believer in the rule of law, Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction as he continues to faithfully and vigorously defend our Constitution,” the president added.
The confirmation fulfills one of the president’s agenda plans: to find a conservative replacement for Scalia and disregard and thwart Obama’s nomination, Merrick Garland, a Democrat.
The 49-year-old holds many similar lauded credentials of a typical Supreme Court justice; he graduated from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford universities.
In the 1990s, he worked as a clerk for federal judges, including Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He also held a private practice at a law firm, and then became a deputy associate attorney general for the U.S. Department of Justice.
In 2006, Gorsuch was nominated by then-President George W. Bush to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. (Klarize Medenilla/AJPress)