US Senate confirms Neil Gorsuch to America's top court
WASHINGTONThe U.S. Senate on Friday narrowly confirmed President Donald Trump's pick to the Supreme Court, Neil Gorsuch.
Presided over by Vice President Mike Pence, the 54-45 near party-line vote caps a partisan saga that has seen Republicans pursue a rule change widely regarded as the "nuclear option".
Gorsuch is "going to make the American people proud", Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor.
"He has sterling credentials, an excellent record, and an ideal judicial temperament," he said. "Of course, I wish that important aspects of this process had played out differently."
On April 7, Democrats successfully filibustered Gorsuch using a long-standing 60-vote cloture rule that prompted Republicans to undo the threshold, upending long-standing Senate tradition.
The move is likely to fuel ideologically-driven nominations from presidents in the future, dealing a powerful blow to the bipartisanship normally seen on Supreme Court nominees.
Gorsuch's Friday confirmation ends a 14-month vacancy on the court following the February 2016 death of Justice Antonin Scalia.
His passing prompted a showdown between then President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled chamber that confirms Supreme Court nominees.
McConnell refused to hold a hearing for Obama nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland, for nearly a year -- an action that continues to galvanize Democrats.
"GOP chose to break the rules & as a result American’s faith in the integrity of SCOTUS & their trust in impartiality of the law will suffer," Sen.
Chuck Schumer, the chamber's top Democrat, wrote on Twitter in the hour leading up to the confirmation vote.
SCOTUS refers to the Supreme Court of the United States.
Gorsuch's confirmation marks the first major success for President Trump in the Republican-controlled legislature.
The president told reporters on Air Force One on Thursday he hopes for at least one more vacancy during his administration, but said "there could be as many as four".
It is unclear if Trump will have any future nominations to the top court, but two judges -- Anthony Kennedy and Ruth Bader Ginsburg -- are 80 or older, while Stephen Breyer is rapidly approaching that milestone.
Supreme Court judges are appointed to life terms.