Trump’s Supreme Court nominee confirmed
WASHINGTON, D.C., April 7, 2017 (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Senate confirmed Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court this morning in a 54 to 45 vote.
Gorsuch has won wide support from conservatives because of his "originalist" interpretation of the Constitution. Some social conservatives opposed or expressed concerns about his nomination because he has not taken a clear position against Roe v. Wade, and has said same-sex "marriage" is "absolutely settled law."
Every Republican, except for an absent one, voted to confirm Gorsuch. The following Democrats voted to confirm Gorsuch: Sen. Joe Donnelly, D-IN, Sen. Joe Manchin, D-WV, and Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-ND.
Until yesterday, Trump-nominated Gorsuch needed 60 votes to be confirmed. But the U.S. Senate voted 52 to 48 to lower the number of votes that Gorsuch needed to be confirmed from 60 to 51.
Had Republicans not voted to change the rules by using what's called the "nuclear option," Democrats would have been able to continue blocking Gorsuch's nomination.
This is the first time the "nuclear option" was used on a Supreme Court nominee. Democrats' actions were also an unprecedented attempt of a partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court justice.
"There's an anger and sourness in the land," Minority Leader Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-NY, said this morning, as he explained his worries that Gorsuch's spot on the Supreme Court wouldn't help ordinary people.
Sen. Roy Blunt, R-MO, wished Gorsuch a "long and healthy life" during which he can use his "skills" on the high court.
"If you vote against a Neil Gorsuch, who can you support?" Sen. Orin Hatch, R-UT, asked Democrats. "Are you just gonna support people who do your bidding?"
"It's kind of a shame that we can't in a bipartisan way support" Gorsuch's nomination, said Hatch. He predicted President Trump will likely have the opportunity to nominate additional Supreme Court justices "who are great lawyers...who will bring great distinction to the Court" and "do the job that we all counted on the Supreme Court doing."
Throughout more than 20 hours of confirmation hearings, Gorsuch refused to say how he would rule in future cases, or what his personal opinion of current precedent is.
Life and marriage issues came up multiple times during the hearings.
While on the Tenth Circuit, Gorsuch sided with the majority in Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius. The majority ruled that Hobby Lobby shouldn't be forced to participate, even remotely, in the provision of birth control against its religious beliefs. Gorsuch dissented from the Tenth Circuit panel in Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell. The Tenth Circuit had ruled against the Little Sisters of the Poor.
Democrats fretted that Gorsuch didn't support forcing people to violate their consciences to provide drugs and devices they morally oppose. Republicans gave him the opportunity to explain why the Religious Freedom Restoration Act protects Hobby Lobby's owners from being forced by the government to violate their consciences.
When Sen. Al Franken, D-MN, aggressively questioned Gorsuch about same-sex "marriage," Gorsuch said it's "absolutely settled law."
"There’s ongoing litigation about its impact and its application right now and I cannot begin to share my personal views," said Gorsuch.
Gorsuch promised Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-SC, that he will consider the facts if a 20-week abortion ban reaches the Supreme Court. He didn't offer his personal opinion on it. Graham used the moment to explain why he plans to advance legislation banning late-term abortions on pain-capable human babies.
"We’re one of seven nations that allow wholesale, on demand, unlimited abortion at 20 weeks, the fifth month of pregnancy. I’d like to get out of that club," said Graham.
Of particular concern to pro-assisted suicide and pro-abortion senators was a line Gorsuch wrote in The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia: "the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong."
"This language has been interpreted by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations to mean he would overturn Roe," said Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-CA.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-IL, asked Gorsuch whether the intentional taking of unborn life is wrong.
Gorsuch responded, "The Supreme Court of the United States has held in Roe v. Wade that a fetus is not a person, for purposes of the 14th Amendment. That [decision] is the law of the land. I accept the law of the land."
He hasn't authored or joined in any rulings that indicate his views specifically on abortion or same-sex “marriage,” but Gorsuch has ruled on cases pertaining to transsexualism and gender ideology. In these cases, defenders of life and family would find Gorsuch’s opinions to be encouraging.