Will Justice Gorsuch be confirmed as the replacement judge for Antonin Scalia? That’s the question that every pundit, senator, and citizen is asking themselves. To accurately answer that question, we need to go to the beginning.
Neil Gorsuch was born on August 29, 1967. He currently serves as a federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. He rose to limelight when he was included in a list of 21 federal and state judges that then Presidential candidate Donald Trump published showing who he would nominate to succeed the late Justice Scalia. As he stated in one of his many Senate interviews, he is a proponent of textualism (1) in statutory interpretation and originalism (2) in interpreting the U.S. Constitution. (I’ll include links for those terms definitions at the bottom of the article.)
The problem that many of the Senators (Democrats) whom are currently going to vote nay on his nomination isn’t that he isn’t qualified for the position; instead, Neil Gorsuch is highly qualified for the position. Justice Gorsuch holds three different degrees from three different Ivy league schools. His degrees include a Bachelor of Arts from Columbia, a Juris Doctor from Harvard Law, and a Doctor of Philosophy from University College at Oxford in England. Justice Neil also wrote an article for a law journal back in 2000, and also wrote a book in 2006 arguing against assisted-suicide laws. Democrat’s problem with Neil Gorsuch is typical to the gridlock that we are currently experiencing in Washington. Democrats are still upset that Senate Republicans didn’t give Merrick Garland a hearing back when Obama originally nominated him a few weeks after Antonin Scalia passed away. Ironically, Merrick Garland was chosen just for the Republicans. He was ideologically liberal, but not to the level that most Democrats wanted. Garland was one of the more moderate justices that has been nominated in the past few decades. But still the Senate Republican’s chose not to hear any testimonials, and to wait for the next president to nominate someone, which was their prerogative. But when the Republicans decided to do this, they came under fire from the left for being unfair to Garland, who was nominated by a president who was still in office; and according to the Appointment Clause in the U.S. Constitution, “He shall have power [to] nominate, and by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, shall appoint ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, judges of the Supreme Court, and all other officers of the United States, whose appointments are not herein otherwise provided for, and which shall be established by law: but the Congress may by law vest the appointment of such inferior officers, as they think proper, in the President alone, in the courts of law, or in the heads of departments.(3) ” As stated in the above clause, the Senate can choose whether or not to provide advice or consent on nominees. In fact, this procedure was started by the former V.P. Joe Biden. He stated in a speech to the Senate in 1992 while he was the chairman for the Senate Judiciary Committee, “Some will criticize such a decision and say that it was nothing more than an attempt to save a seat on the court in hopes that a Democrat will be permitted to fill it, but that would not be our intention,” Mr. Biden said at the time. “It would be our pragmatic conclusion that once the political season is underway, and it is, action on a Supreme Court nomination must be put off until after the election campaign is over. (4)” As it turns out, President Bush (the first) was replaced by Bill Clinton, who went on to nominate Ruth Bader Ginsburg who was eventually confirmed to the Supreme Court.
However, with the way the Senate is currently divvied up between the two parties, Republicans do not have the needed votes to avoid a filibuster on Justice Gorsuch. The Senate is divided up with 52 Republicans and 46 Democrats and 2 Independents who vote with the Democrats. The Senate Democrats are going to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination without a doubt. However, two Democrats have broke away from their party, and have promised to vote with Republicans to end the filibuster and to vote Gorsuch in; in doing so, they have brought the total up to 54 votes. The Republicans need six more votes to end the potential filibuster and to vote Neil Gorsuch in as the 113th Supreme Court justice. But Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell has a move being held in reserve, aptly called the “Nuclear Option”. What the so-called “Nuclear Option” consists of is the lowering of votes for confirming Supreme Court nominees from 60, a super-majority, to 51, a simple majority. Once again, Democrats are all up in protest of Republicans to this, but the Senate Democrats did the same exact thing to all federal positions that the Senate had confirmation powers for, such as Cabinet-level positions. The only difference is that lowering the amount of votes needed to confirm the nominee is a huge change in precedent, and it also highlights the huge amount of gridlock and political bickering that encompasses Washington.
At the end of the day, Neil Gorsuch will be confirmed weather or not the Senate Democrats want him to be. Republicans have several avenues of approach, and they will use every opportunity they can. So to answer the question on if Neil Gorsuch will replace Antonin Scalia as a justice on the Supreme Court, yes he will, it just depends on how.