Republican leaders in Congress lauded President Trump's Tuesday night selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court, labeling him an "outstanding" and "phenomenal" pick to fill the vacant seat
In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., pointed to Gorsuch's "impressive background" and argued that Democrats should give him "fair consideration," pointing to the Senate's support for nominee's by Democratic presidents.
"The president made an outstanding decision in his nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to be an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. He has an impressive background and a long record of faithfully applying the law and the Constitution," McConnell said.
"When the Senate previously confirmed him to the appellate court, the bipartisan support in the Senate was so overwhelming, a roll call vote was not even required," McConnell said. "I hope Members of the Senate will again show him fair consideration and respect the result of the recent election with an up-or-down vote on his nomination, just like the Senate treated the four first-term nominees of Presidents Clinton and Obama."
House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., echoed McConnell's remarks, making reference to Gorsuch's "career-long fight" to support religious liberty. He added that he hopes his Senate colleagues confirm him as the next associate justice.
"In Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump has fulfilled his pledge to nominate a judge who has a demonstrated loyalty to the Constitution and a strong commitment to life. He is a phenomenal nominee for the Supreme Court," Ryan said. "His belief in judicial restraint will serve the Court—and the country—very well. I also commend his career-long fight to uphold the constitutional right of religious liberty. I am confident my colleagues in the Senate will confirm Judge Gorsuch."
However, Republicans will likely have to win over eight Democrats to advance Gorsuch's nomination to the floor of the Senate, unless McConnell invokes the "nuclear option," which would allow and up-or-down vote. Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb. predicted that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., is ready to do anything to make sure Gorsuch does not end up on the bench.
"Senator Schumer is about to tell Americans that Judge Gorsuch kicks puppies and heckles piano recitals. That's hogwash," Sasse said in a statement. "Democrats are working overtime to cast Judge Gorsuch as a reflexive partisan but, as I said when Justice Scalia died, there are no Republican or Democratic seats on the Supreme Court. This shouldn't be a partisan debate but an opportunity to teach our kids civics."
Speaking with the Washington Examiner after the selection, Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., argued that Gorsuch should sail through the Senate as there is "nothing not to like" about him.
"I think you'll have unified support among Republicans, I believe. There's just nothing not to like about Gorsuch," Flake said, pointing to his rulings.
Sarah Westwood contributed to this report.