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Senate Republicans Forced to Ignite “Nuclear Option”
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Gorsuch Supreme court

Summary: After Democrats blocked the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Republicans have decided to follow the Harry Reid’s example in 2013.

Over a year since the U.S. Supreme Court was left with an unexpected vacancy from the death of Antonin Scalia, the court still has an open seat. After weeks of childish bickering, Senate Republicans have chosen the last resort option to place Judge Neil Gorsuch on the U.S. Supreme Court bench. In what is referred to by many as a “nuclear option” to change the long-standing rule on the required number of votes needed for confirmation, the senate has opened the doors for future Supreme Court nominees to pass through without reaching 60-votes from the senate.


Democrats successfully secured the votes needed to prevent Gorsuch’s confirmation, placing Republican in a tough position when they only received 55 votes. The vote to take the nuclear option was directly along party lines, showing a clear and growing separation of any bipartisan effort. Now a confirmation will only need a simple majority of 51 votes to succeed. In order to get to the point where they can vote for the resulting 51 votes, the majority leader and presiding officer must take a number of steps. The majority leader first suggests a change to the rules with the presiding officer challenging him. The leader then calls a vote on the rule change, which was passed 52-48. The Senate will likely vote Friday under the new law to confirm Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

The standoff over the vacant Supreme Court seat began when Republicans refused to consider then-president Barack Obama’s nomination, Judge Merrick Garland. They wanted to let a new president pick the candidate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Our Democratic colleagues have done something today that is unprecedented in the history of the Senate. Unfortunately, it has brought us to this point. We need to restore the norms and traditions of the Senate to get past this partisan filibuster.”

Gorsuch is a 49-year-old judge based in Denver, who currently sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. Democrats claim he is too extreme while Republicans claim the Democrats are unfairly preventing a qualified jurist from joining the court.

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McConnell made one final plea to his Senate colleagues, “So let me say this to my Democratic colleagues: If you truly cannot support the nomination of this eminently qualified nominee, then at least allow the bipartisan majority of the Senate that supports Gorsuch to take an up-or-down vote. You already deployed the nuclear option in 2013. Don’t trigger it again in 2017.”

In 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev, made the same move to lower the threshold on votes needed for Obama’s Cabinet nominees and lower-court judicial appointees. Reid did not lower the minimum for the Supreme Court nominations.

Do you think Democrats and Republican will ever agree on the same candidate? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about Gorsuch and the Senates issues, read these articles:

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