The Latest: Pence hopes to avoid 'nuclear option' on Gorsuch

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Posted: Feb 01, 2017 4:36 PM
The Latest: Pence hopes to avoid 'nuclear option' on Gorsuch

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump's nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court (all times local):

4:35 p.m.

Vice President Mike Pence says in an interview with "PBS NewsHour" that he's hopeful that the Senate will not need to take the so-called "nuclear option" to win approval for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch.

Pence was asked if Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell might have to resort to changing Senate rules to make it impossible to filibuster the Supreme Court nominee.

Pence says he's hopeful McConnell won't, and is pointing to the first-term nominees of former Presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. He says those nominees received "broad bipartisan support" and were considered in about 60 to 70 days.

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2:15 p.m.

The first phone call Judge Neil Gorsuch made after being nominated to the Supreme Court was to Judge Merrick Garland — former President Barack Obama's pick for the bench.

It was a courtesy call by Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's selection for the longstanding vacancy created by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia a year ago.

The Republican-led Senate never acted on Garland's nomination for that seat, much to the irritation of Democrats who are now threatening to make trouble for Gorsuch's bid.

The phone call by Gorsuch was confirmed by Ron Bonjean, who is assisting the judge through the nominations process

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Noon

President Donald Trump says if political "gridlock" stalls his Supreme Court pick, it may be time for the Senate's Republican leader to consider the option to "go nuclear."

That would mean changing Senate rules to make it impossible to filibuster a high court nominee.

The president tells reporters that if Senate Democrats try to block Neil Gorsuch's nomination, he would say this to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell: "If you can, Mitch, go nuclear, because that would be an absolute shame if a man of this quality was caught up in the web."

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11:10 a.m.

President Donald Trump's Supreme Court pick is earning GOP praise as he visits Capitol Hill.

Judge Neil Gorsuch was accompanied by Vice President Mike Pence as he met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. McConnell called Gorsuch "an outstanding appointment" and said Republicans were "thrilled" to get the confirmation process started.

Pence predicted that as senators get to know Gorsuch, "they'll come to understand the enthusiasm" Trump has for Gorsuch.

Democratic divisions were already on display as a handful of senators announced immediate opposition to Gorsuch while others said he deserved a hearing before any conclusion is reached.

A Senate Judiciary Committee spokesman said the panel hoped to begin confirmation hearings in about six weeks.

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7 a.m.

President Donald Trump has nominated Neil Gorsuch, a fast-rising conservative judge with a writer's flair, to the Supreme Court. That sets up a fierce fight with Democrats over a jurist who could shape America's legal landscape for decades to come.

At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in a quarter-century. He's known on the Denver-based 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for clear, colloquial writing, advocacy for court review of government regulations, defense of religious freedom and skepticism toward law enforcement.

Gorsuch's nomination Tuesday was cheered by conservatives wary of Trump's own fluid ideology. If confirmed by the Senate, he would fill the seat left vacant by the death last year of Antonin Scalia, long the right's most powerful voice on the high court.