The Senate Judiciary Committee voted Monday to advance the Supreme Court nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the full Senate for a vote, which will take place later this week.
The committee voted to advance Gorsuch's nomination on a party-line vote.
President Donald Trump nominated Gorsuch to the high court to fill the vacancy left by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia in February last year.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said during remarks before the committee vote that Gorsuch “is eminently qualified” to serve on the Supreme Court.
“He’s a mainstream judge who’s earned the universal respect of his colleagues on the bench and in the bar,” Grassley said. “He applies the law as we in Congress write it — as the judicial oath says, without respect to persons. And he refuses to compromise his independence.”
California Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking Democrat on the committee, said that due to her qualms about Gorsuch’s record, she "cannot support his nomination."
Many Democrats have cited their objections to Senate Republicans’ decision not to act on former President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, as part of their reason for rejecting the Gorsuch nomination.
During remarks before the committee vote, Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) said it was “shameful” that Garland was not “afforded the courtesy of a hearing.” Leahy had previously expressed opposition to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer’s call for a filibuster of Gorsuch’s nomination, but on Monday, Leahy reversed his position, saying that he would vote against advancing his nomination.
Three Senate Democrats — Sens. Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.) and Joe Manchin (W.Va) — have announced that they intend to vote for Gorsuch’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet — who hails from Gorsuch's home state — has said he opposes a filibuster of the nomination but has not yet stated how he intends to vote on confirmation.
Earlier Monday, Senate Democrats reportedly gained enough votes to filibuster Gorsuch's nomination.