Republicans invoke “nuclear option,” move closer to Gorsuch Supreme Court confirmation

Senate Republicans bypassed a Democratic filibuster to proceed to a final confirmation vote for Judge Neil M. Gorsuch in an unprecedented decision to change the rules of Supreme Court confirmations.

“This will be the first, and last, partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nomination,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on the Senate floor early Thursday, according to The Washington Post.

The Senate voted along party lines to stop filibusters of Supreme Court nominations with only a simple majority needed, requiring only 51 rather than the previous 60 votes.

A following cloture vote on Thursday morning halted any further debate on the Senate floor as the Senate voted 55-45 to move onto a final vote.

Some speculate the Republican’s decision to embrace a “nuclear option” will change the rules of the Supreme Court selection process to allow more ideologically extreme judges in the future.

“In 20 or 30 or 40 years, we will sadly point to today as a turning point in the history of the Senate and the Supreme Court, a day when we irrevocably moved further away from the principles our founders intended for these institutions: principles of bipartisanship, moderation and consensus,” Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said on the Senate floor, according to Fortune 500.

The decision comes after a year of rising tensions surrounding the empty seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland last March. Consequently, Garland never received a hearing for the position and instead, President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch once he took office.

It is expected Gorsuch will be confirmed Friday by a party line majority vote.