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NEW INFORMATION: Gorsuch confirmed; Senate approves Trump nominee, 54-45

NEW INFORMATION: Gorsuch confirmed; Senate approves Trump nominee, 54-45

But Democrats replied that they were left no choice after Republicans' systematic abuse of the filibuster during the first four years of the Obama presidency, making it extraordinarily hard to confirm lower court and executive branch nominees.

McConnell said Gorsuch, who also worked in the Justice Department under Republican former President George W. Bush and is the son of the first woman to head the Environmental Protection Agency, has "sterling credentials, an excellent record and an ideal judicial temperament". Now the Democrats are on the receiving end, and with much higher stakes - namely the make-up of the U.S. Supreme Court for many years to come.

The remaining question is whether Republicans will seek, by majority vote, to abolish the filibuster as it applies to legislation.

In 2005, with the Senate under GOP control, Republicans prepared to utilize the "nuclear option" to remove the filibuster for lower-court nominees.

Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, D-New York, responded by warning that "the consequences for the Senate and for the future of the Supreme Court will be far-reaching". The rule change was dubbed the "nuclear option" because it was considered an extreme break from Senate tradition.

Had the Senate confirmed Obama's nominee Merrick Garland, the court would have tilted to the left for the first time in decades.

Chief Justice John Roberts will administer the constitutional oath to Mr Gorsuch in a private ceremony in the justices' conference room. But Trump has run into trouble with some other major initiatives. His administration also has faced questions about any role the president's associates may have played in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election to help Trump. He still must be sworn in at the court and the White House, most likely early next week.

More news: Syria's Assad: Idlib chemical attack 'fabrication'

Gorsuch's name was on a list of potential choices Trump produced during the campaign, and was vetted by conservative groups including the Federalist Society and the Heritage Foundation.

His passing prompted a showdown between then President Barack Obama and the Republican-controlled chamber that confirms Supreme Court nominees.

While there may be no end to the hypocrisy, rancor, and obstruction that liberal loyalists are willing to inflict on the American political process, all citizens of goodwill can rest assured that in Judge Gorsuch, they have a decent, unbiased, and highly-qualified Supreme Court justice who will uphold the law.

The justices will meet privately on Thursday to accept or reject cases for next term - among them a petition from gun-rights activists asking the court to find for the first time that the Second Amendment right to keep a gun for self-defense extends to carrying firearms outside the home. The case was accepted when Scalia was alive, and the delay in scheduling it for oral argument might indicate the court is divided.

The goal, he said, is to see if senators can figure out a way to promote more bipartisanship in a body where the two parties barely work together at all anymore. Among the cases to be heard is a closely watched case testing whether a Missouri church school was wrongly denied state funding for a program to make playgrounds safer.

"As a deep believer in the rule of law, Judge Gorsuch will serve the American people with distinction as he continues to faithfully and vigorously defend our Constitution", Trump said.

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