8 Apr 2017

Senate confirms Trump's Supreme Court pick

10:49 am on 8 April 2017

US President Donald Trump's pick for the Supreme Court has been confirmed in the Senate, restoring the court to a conservative majority, in the leader's first big political win.

Judge Neil Gorsuch, left, and Donald Trump

Judge Neil Gorsuch, left, and Donald Trump Photo: AFP

The Senate, which last year refused to consider Democratic former President Barack Obama's nominee to the court, voted 54-45 to approve Republican Trump's pick, Colorado-based federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, to the lifetime job.

Three Democrats joined the Republicans in voting for Mr Gorsuch.

Mr Gorsuch's confirmation ends the longest Supreme Court vacancy since 1862 during the American Civil War, with the court down a justice for almost 14 months since long-serving conservative Justice Antonin Scalia died on Feb. 13, 2016.

"Judge Gorsuch's confirmation process was one of the most transparent and accessible in history, and his judicial temperament, exceptional intellect, unparalleled integrity and record of independence makes him the perfect choice to serve on the nation's highest court," Mr Trump said in a statement.

"He's going to make an incredible addition to the court," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on the Senate floor.

Illustrating the importance of the moment, Vice President Mike Pence served as the Senate's presiding officer during the vote to confirm Gorsuch, who also worked in Republican former President George W. Bush's Justice Department and is the son of the first woman to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Republicans, possessing a 52-48 Senate majority, on Thursday overcame a ferocious Democratic effort to block a confirmation vote, resorting to a rule change known as the "nuclear option."

"Today, for the first time in history, the theft of a Supreme Court seat has been completed, profoundly damaging the integrity of the court," said Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley, referring to Republicans casting aside Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, who would have tilted the court to the left for the first time in decades.

- Reuters

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