Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) and Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), the two Republicans whose final votes on breaking the threatened Democratic filibuster of the confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee were uncertain as late as this morning, delivered for the president and their party on Thursday afternoon.
“Senate Republicans used the “constitutional option” to change longstanding cloture rules around 12:30 pm Thursday, clearing the way for Judge Neil Gorsuch to receive a vote of the full Senate on his confirmation to the Supreme Court,” Breitbart News reports:
Republicans resorted to the party-line 52-48 vote after weeks of wrangling over Gorsuch’s nomination in which Senate Democrats threatened the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in American history. After the Democrats assembled the forty-one votes needed to prevent the end of debate under current rules, the constitutional option allowing cloture on a simple majority became the only remaining path to placing Gorsuch on the Court.
Vice-President Mike Pence, who would have been needed to break a tie should any two Republicans have voted to maintain the 60-vote cloture rule, was not present for the vote, indicating Republican confidence their entire caucus would agree to the change.
As The Tennessee Star reported earlier this morning, Corker had been noncommittal and Alexander had been indirect in their most recent statements about how they would vote on breaking the filibuster.
“A successful cloture vote quickly followed the rule change. The 55-45 vote began a thirty hour countdown to a vote of the full Senate. Judge Gorsuch is, therefore, slated for the final vote on his confirmation no later than seven o’clock Friday evening. All 52 Republicans and three Democrats are expected to vote for his confirmation, allowing him to replace Antonin Scalia as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,” Breitbart News adds.
The procedural vote, and now-certain confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday is a major political victory for President Trump.
It also potentially represents a major turning point in American history, as it places another conservative on the Supreme Court, putting the expected balance on the Court back to 5-4 in favor of a generally “originalist” judicial viewpoint in most decisions.
Perhaps more importantly, it shows that a Republican President and a Republic Senate have the courage to fight for an originalist nominee.
If the next Supreme Court justice to retire is one of the four “liberal” votes, it also sets the stage for the nomination and confirmation of another “originalist,” which could then turn a 5-4 balance in favor of originalists to 6-3.