After Democrats successfully blocked a vote on the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch, the U.S. Senate on Thursday exercised the “nuclear option” and abolished the ability to filibuster nominees to the U.S. Supreme Court
The U.S. Senate voted to change the rules by a party-line 52-48 vote after the Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell introduced a motion to change the rules and end the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees while leaving it in place for legislation.
According to the Associated Press, McConnell cited the change in rules former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid made in 2013 to eliminate the filibuster for nominees to the administration posts and lower courts. Further, he accused Democrats of filibustering Gorsuch out of frustration over their loss in the 2016 election.
“Democrats would filibuster Ruth Bader Ginsburg if President Donald Trump nominated her,” McConnell is quoted as saying. “There is simply no principled reason to oppose this exceptional, exceptional Supreme Court nominee.”
McConnell changes the rules to allow a confirmation vote on Gorsuch after last year he blocked in a unprecedented way former President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland from even having a hearing in the U.S. Senate.
The vote to end the filibuster took place after Democrats held a marathon session of speeches to protest the vote on Gorsuch. The vote to block his nomination from moving forward was 55-45.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), who said he’d filibuster any nominee other than Garland, delivered remarks for 15-hour throughout the evening before the vote.
“This is an extreme nominee from the far right who doesn’t believe in the fundamental vision of ‘We the People’ and makes decision after decision through tortured, twisted, contrived arguments defined for the powerful over the people, and that is unacceptable,” Merkley said during his remarks, according to the Associated Press.
Wade Henderson, CEO of The Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, condemned McConnell’s end of the filibuster as a historic and hypocritical dismantling of the Supreme Court confirmation process.
“Today, the world’s so-called greatest deliberative body has become the latest casualty in the right-wing onslaught on our democracy,” Henderson said. “When it became clear that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee could not meet the 60-vote threshold and should be replaced with a more consensus choice, Leader McConnell opted for a naked partisan power play by changing the rules in the middle of the game.”
The Senate is now expected to confirm Gorsuch to the Supreme Court on Friday.