18 Oct 2022


Politics in the News: Senators Stand On Court Nominee Neil Gorsuch

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The article, “Here's how senators plan to vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch” by Ashley Killough and Ted Barrett published on 4 April 2017 is about the ongoing debate about President Donald Trump’s candidate to the Associate Justice of the U.S Supreme Court. Judge Neil Gorsuch, requires 60 votes from the Senate for him to pass the nomination test. The senate comprises of 52 republicans and 48 democrats. The 52 Republicans are all expected to back up the nomination of Judge Gorsuch. However, Judge Gorsuch requires eight votes from the Democratic Senators in order for the Senate to pass his nomination.

Senate Democrats are preparing to filibuster the appointment when the name of Gorsuch comes to the Senate house for debate. Democrats are particularly dissatisfied with the Republicans for not giving Merrick Garland, President Obama’s nominee for last year, an opportunity to present his views. As of Monday, the Democrats required 41 members to filibuster the nomination of Neil Gorsuch. Senator Chris Coon announced he would be supporting the filibuster.

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Only four Democratic Senators are supporting Judge Neil’s appointment with two senators (a Democrat and an independent) yet to decide where they will cast their votes. Even if the Senators vote for Judge Gorsuch, they will still fall short of securing the 8 required votes to end the filibuster. The Republicans being unsuccessful to secure all eight Democrats’ votes are now left with the nuclear option. The option allows amendments to the law to lower the filibuster threshold from sixty to fifty-one. As such, the Republicans on their own will be in a position to reduce the threshold and consequently end the filibuster, thereby passing Gorsuch’s nomination.

The nuclear option was once used by the Democrats in 2013 to lower the threshold for the appointment of lower court judges when they were the majority. On the other hand, the Republicans are similarly using it as their precedent in their decision come next week. However, some Republicans are hesitant about the nuclear option as it would haunt them in future if they become the minority in the Senate.

In conclusion, both parties are worried that the nuclear option of lowering the threshold for legislation give a smooth sail for whatever party is in power in the future. With the majority leader Mitch McConnell requiring a majority of the senate to approve the nuclear option, he can only afford to lose two Republicans for the bill to sail through. It is still unclear how many Republicans are willing to vote against the nuclear option.


Killough, A. & Barrett, T. (2017). Here's how senators plan to vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. CNN Politics . Retrieved on 4 April 2017, from http://edition.cnn.com/2017/03/27/politics/neil-gorsuch-whip-list/.

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