With Supreme Court seat filled, GOP looks to lower courts

U.S. Capitol dome
U.S. Capitol dome restoration formally finished November 15, 2016. (Photo: Alex Schuman)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republican have put President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee on the bench, and they’re now in a position to fill dozens more federal judgeships — and reshape some of the nation’s highest courts.

Democrats have few ways to stop them.

The Republicans’ opportunity comes after years of partisan warring over judicial nominations.

In 2013, majority Democrats were frustrated by what they viewed as GOP obstruction. Democrats changed Senate rules so lower-court nominations now only need 51 votes for confirmation.

Today, Senate Republicans hold 52 seats.

The rules change didn’t apply to the Supreme Court, but Senate Republicans now in the majority made that tweak earlier this month to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court over Democratic opposition.

There are about 120 vacancies in federal district and appeals courts.