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Republicans Went 'Nuclear' to Put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court

The vote paves the way for Trump's SCOTUS pick—and future nominees—to be approved without a 60-vote majority.
Drew Schwartz
Brooklyn, US
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

After Senate Democrats managed to block Neil Gorsuch's SCOTUS confirmation with a 55–45 vote Thursday, the Republican-majority in the Senate voted to invoke the "nuclear option," ending the need for a 60-vote majority to appoint Supreme Court justices, Politico reports.

By changing the age-old rules about how many votes an appointed justice needs to be confirmed, Gorsuch now only needs a simple majority of votes from the Senate to make it onto America's most powerful judiciary panel. With all 52 Republican senators in favor of confirming Gorsuch, nabbing that 51-vote majority shouldn't be a problem, but it permanently scraps the filibuster option—a bipartisan pillar in the chamber—for future Supreme Court appointees.

Democrats have resisted Gorsuch's appointment to the bench for a number of reasons. Partly, they wanted to retaliate against Republicans for blocking Merrick Garland—Obama's pick to replace Antonin Scalia—from the bench. But Democrats also claim Gorsuch isn't qualified for the position and say they're open to other SCOTUS candidates Trump could appoint—which is no longer a likely option.

A final confirmation vote on Gorsuch is expected to take place by Friday evening, just before the Senate takes its first recess of the year.

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