April 10, 2017
After being one justice shy for more than a year, the U.S. Supreme Court is finally full again with the swearing in of Neil Gorsuch this morning (April 10).
The seat was left vacant after the death of justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016. President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland on March 16, but, saying the nomination should be left for the next president, Senate Republicans refused to consider Garland’s nomination. The nomination expired on Jan. 3 with the end of the 114th Congress. Only 11 days into his presidency, Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch on Jan. 31.
Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing began March 20, kicking off a political battle in the Senate. The judiciary committee approved his nomination April 3 by an 11-9 party-line vote. On Thursday (April 6), Democrats filibustered the confirmation vote, leading Republicans to invoke the “nuclear option,” which accepts a simple majority instead of a supermajority and removes the ability to filibuster. The Senate confirmed Gorsuch’s nomination on Friday (April 7) by a vote of 54-45, with three Democrats siding with the Republicans.
Gorsuch joins the Supreme Court as it prepares to hear some highly controversial topics, including separation of church and state via the blocked state funding for a religious preschool’s playground, whether the Second Amendment grants a right to carry firearms outside the home, and whether businesses may refuse to provide wedding services to same-sex couples. The court will meet privately on Thursday (April 13) to consider cases for the next term.
Jared Perkins is a visiting instructor in the Texas Tech University Department of Political Science who specializes in judicial politics. His research has been published in the Law & Politics Book Review and is scheduled for publication in the upcoming Oxford Handbook of American Law and the Judiciary. He teaches courses in American politics and public policy, American judicial progress, undergraduate research methods, constitutional law and environmental law and policy.
Jared Perkins,visiting instructor in political science, (325) 721-9842 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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