Senate breaks with 200 year-precedent to change the rules mid-course of a confirmation hearing, with potential far-reaching implications for independent judiciary
Today, the U.S. Senate took the unprecedented step to change the rules on the nomination of President Donald Trump’s nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. The Senate invoked the so-called “Nuclear Option,” requiring only a simple majority to advance the nomination of Judge Gorsuch to the high court. Under regular Senate order, cloture must be agreed upon by 60 Senators. The move could have implications for the appointment of future Supreme Court nominees, potentially changing the rules of the Senate to allow all Supreme Court nominees to pass on a simple majority vote versus a 60-vote consensus. “President Donald Trump’s repeated promise to only name a nominee to the Supreme Court who would seek to overturn Roe v. Wade called for unequivocal answers from Judge Gorsuch on his respect for the deeply entrenched rights that Roe represents and protects,” said Nancy Northup, President and CEO of the Center for Reproductive Rights. “We did not get those answers, and it is therefore troubling that Senate leadership supported a highly contested tactic to advance President Trump’s nominee for a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court. “In going nuclear and prematurely ending all debate on Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, the Senate abdicated its responsibility to ensure that the Supreme Court remain independent from the presidency, political parties and partisan ideology.” In his time on the bench, Judge Gorsuch has compiled a record of hostility towards women’s equality and reproductive rights that raises significant concerns about how he would rule in future cases. Senate Judiciary Committee hearings were an opportunity for Judge Gorsuch to educate Senators and the American public on his judicial philosophy, however, after three days of testimony and 76 pages of written answers, Judge Gorsuch still refused to clarify whether he would uphold a woman’s constitutional right to safe, legal abortion or if he would send women back to the days before Roe. The Senate is set to vote tomorrow on Gorsuch’s confirmation.