Vacant Supreme Court Seat Filled

by Joey Derrico

After more than a year of intense deliberation from both sides of the political aisle, a candidate has been nominated and confirmed to fulfill the vacant 9th seat on the Supreme Court. Forty-nine-year-old Neil Gorsuch will take the place of deceased Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last February from a heart attack at the age of 79.

Speaking in terms of credentials, Gorsuch is an extremely qualified candidate. Gorsuch attended Columbia University for undergraduate studies and then Harvard University Law School to receive his Juris Doctor degree, graduating in 1991.  Furthermore, Gorsuch would later attain a Doctor of Philosophy in Law from Oxford University in 2004. Gorush served as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1991 to 1992. After a stint at the Department of Justice, Gorsuch was nominated by former president George W. Bush to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and later confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Gorsuch served on the Tenth Circuit until his subsequent nomination to the Supreme Court.

Seen as a Conservative who will carry on Scalia’s legacy, Gorsuch’s nomination came with intense criticism and outcry from Democrats. This is a result of former President Obama’s nominated candidate, Merrick Garland, not receiving a hearing in the Senate, breaking from tradition. 

The confirmation of Gorsuch, however, proved to be a strenuous task for Republicans. Sixty votes are required to confirm a nominee to the Supreme Court, a precedent that has been followed for over 200 years. Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate, which means 8 Democrats would have to deviate from their party and vote for Gorsuch to confirm him. All Republican members and 4 Democrats voted for Gorsuch, meaning his confirmation fell short of the required 60 votes. Instead of finding a new candidate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) imposed the “nuclear option,” which changed the rule of needing 60 votes to only needing a simple majority. With this new rule in place, the Senate confirmed Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.

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