Even though 3 Democrats said they would vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch, Senate Republicans knew they lacked the 60% vote necessary for the confirmation, so they used the nuclear option and changed the rules so that Gorsuch could be be confirmed. Don’t forget that former Sen. Harry Reid changed Senate rules when it was to the Democrats advantage.
Senate Republicans changed longstanding rules on Thursday to clear the way for the confirmation of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court, bypassing a precedent-breaking Democratic filibuster by allowing the nomination to go forward on a simple majority vote.
In deploying the so-called nuclear option, lawmakers are fundamentally altering the way the Senate handles one of its most significant duties — a sign of the body’s creeping rancor in recent years after decades of at least relative bipartisanship on Supreme Court matters. Both parties have likewise warned of sweeping effects on the future of the court, predicting that the shift will lead to the elevation of more ideologically extreme judges if only a majority is required for confirmation.
Senate Democrats in 2013 first changed the rules of the Senate to block Republican filibusters of presidential nominees to lower courts and to government positions, but they left the filibuster in place for Supreme Court nominees, an acknowledgment of the sacrosanct nature of the high court. That last pillar was knocked down on a party-line vote, with all 52 Republicans voting to overrule Senate precedent and all 48 Democrats and liberal-leaning independents voting to keep it.