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16 April 2017, 02:26 | Clarence Schmidt
On Friday, the U.S. Senate voted to confirm Neil M. Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.
On a vote of 54 to 45, senators confirmed Gorsuch, 49, a Denver-based judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
The Senate change, affecting how many votes a nominee needs to advance to a final confirmation vote, will apply to all future Supreme Court candidates as well.
The new justice is also a conservative who adheres to numerous same positions that Scalia did. They fear Gorsuch will align himself with the court's other conservatives on issues ranging from employment discrimination to reproductive rights.
While Scalia was enormously well-liked and admired by fellow justices, his harsh written rhetoric sometimes diminished his influence internally on the court.
As Justice, Gorsuch's vote could prove most critical in the case of Citizens United and various human rights decisions.
The Supreme Court so far this year has punted on controversial issues, seemingly to avoid an indecisive 4-4 tie. There is also a plea on behalf of business owners who want to be able to refuse their wedding services to same-sex couples.
In 10 days, the justices will begin hearing their last round of arguments for this term.
On April 19, the court will hear a religious rights case in which a church contends Missouri violated the U.S. Constitution's guarantee of religious freedom by denying it funds for a playground project due to a state ban on aid to religious organizations. The state maintains that it can not provide the funding without violating the constitutional requirement of separation of church and state.
Democrats in 2013 first changed the rules of the Senate to block Republican filibusters of nominees to lower courts and government jobs, but left the Supreme Court untouched. A handful of Democrats joined Republicans in voting "yes" on Gorsuch - West Virginia Sen. "Those concerns grow even more significant as we confront the reality that President Trump may have several more opportunities to transform the Court with a partisan majority".
"We are writing to urge you to support our efforts to preserve existing rules, practices, and traditions as they pertain to the right of Members to engage in extended debate on legislation before the United States Senate", said the letter that was spearheaded by GOP Sen. But his repeated refusal to engage on specific Supreme Court cases or policy issues frustrated Democrats concerned that his lighter judicial record on matters, ranging from abortion rights to environmental protection and campaign finance law, coupled with his refusal to denounce Trump personally for his attacks on federal judges, made it hard to determine his judicial philosophy and potential to be an independent check on the White House. That's more than half of all the 149 filibusters used against presidential nominees in the nation's history.
Between 1789 and 1882, eight men were confirmed to a high court seat they did not fill, according to "The Supreme Court Compendium".
After a controversial and prolonged battle for the open seat, Gorsuch will now presumably shape the highest court - and Senate - for years to come.
But Democrats cited a variety of reasons for their votes to bar a cutoff of debate on Gorsuch. Republicans blocked Barack Obama from filling the seat all a year ago.
Thursday's vote means that from now on, all nominations, including those to the Supreme Court, can be quickly approved by a majority vote in the Senate.
Recovering from an ankle injury, Collins was seen hobbling around the Senate floor during votes, holding a green folder containing the letter, and talking individually to senators about it. The Senate is a place of deliberation. Depending on who you are, this could be either very good or very bad.
Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico said there are plans afoot among a bipartisan group of senators to organize a private meeting in the Old Supreme Court Chamber, located in the Capitol, later this year.
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