Republicans on Thursday dramatically altered how the U.S. Senate confirms Supreme Court nominations.

As The New York Times reported, the GOP move bypasses a Democratic blockade of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch “in a move that will most likely reshape both the Senate and the high court.”

The angered Senate Democrats, including the two who represent Hawaii.

“Today will go down in history as the day Republicans deepened the divides in the Senate, the Supreme Court, and the country,” Sen. Brian Schatz said in a press release. “Instead of changing the nominee to reach bipartisan consensus, Republicans chose to change the rules. In doing so, they weakened one of the last bastions of bipartisanship at a time when polarization is at an all-time high.”

US Supreme Court Building 2017. 18 jan 2017
The U.S. Supreme Court Building. Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Schatz continued: “I’m deeply disappointed and concerned by the Republicans’ actions, which were pushed through in a brazen effort to further politicize the Supreme Court. The Senate rules exist to encourage bipartisanship, deliberation, and compromise. Now that Republicans have successfully put one of those rules on the chopping block, we will have more difficulty achieving those purposes.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono had this to say:

“Today, Senate Republicans destroyed a process that has been in place for years to accomplish their goal of confirming a far-right Supreme Court Justice. Last year, they wouldn’t even give President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland a hearing.

“And today, they changed the rules in order to ram through a nominee who cannot garner even 60 votes to sit on the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch would preserve the 5-4 conservative majority on the Roberts Court that favors corporate interests over individual rights.”

Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee, is expected to be confirmed as early as Friday.

 As the Times noted, 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 for Supreme Court nominees untouched, an acknowledgment of the court’s exalted status,” according to the report.

About the Author