trump finalizing an option of SCOTUS nominee 07:38 once President trump card announces his replacement for retiring can be fried Court justice Anthony Kennedy on Friday night, his nominee will only require 51 votes in the U.S. Senate to it is in confirmed.

But for the vast bulk of American history, nominees because that nation"s greatest court effectively needed at least 60 votes, which often required some bipartisan support for the president"s pick. Otherwise, a filibuster could hold increase a nomination indefinitely.

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So what happened? how did us go from 60 votes to 51?

Enter the "nuclear option"

It wasn"t simply Supreme Court nominees who essential 60 votes – commonwealth judges and also cabinet secretaries essential them together well.

But this setup had constantly been profoundly irritating come the party in power, an especially given the political polarization of current decades. Time and time again, the party in regulate of the Senate and also White home saw their selections for an effective positions filibustered by their opponents in the minority.

Under president George W. Bush, however, Republicans began toying through a way to get roughly the filibuster: a basic change to the Senate rules, which required just 51 votes, that would allow judicial nominees come pass with a an easy majority.

In 2003, the GOP controlled the White House and had the same 51-vote majority in the Senate they have actually today. But Democrats had begun filibustering a variety of Bush"s judicial nominees, i beg your pardon Republicans observed as one affront to your agenda.

So Senate Republicans began toying approximately with one idea they dubbed "the Hulk," a an enig plan to remove the 60-vote threshold via a preeminence change. Yet it was the former Republican leader, Mississippi Sen. Trent Lott, that reportedly offered it the name that stuck:"the atom option."

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Did they use the atom option?

No. Republicans raised their Senate majority in the 2004 elections and also the nuclear alternative was mostly taken turn off the table. However, in 2013, Democrats to be in charge of the Senate and also White House, and also it to be the decimal Republicans that were filibustering their judicial choose en masse.

So the democratic Senate majority Leader, Nevada"s bother Reid, decided to traction the trigger. The nuclear alternative was imposed for the an initial time, and the Senate rule were adjusted so nominees for cabinet posts and federal judgeships can be shown with simply 51 votes. Republicans cry foul, in spite of threatening the nuclear alternative in the past, and also Democrats who had been protest to such a rule adjust quickly changed their tune. Then-Senate minority Leader Mitch McConnell said at the time, "You"ll remorse this, and you might regret this a lot of sooner 보다 you think."

But did that use to supreme Court nominees?

It did no – Reid go not change the rules for the can be fried Court, an interpretation nominees still successfully needed to meet the 60-vote threshold to protect against a filibuster.

But climate the Senate and White House changed hands again. Republicans take it the Senate in the 2014 elections and refused to think about President Obama"s choose for the supreme Court vacancy developed by the fatality of justice Antonin Scalia. GOP Senate majority Leader Mitch McConnell rather waited for the 2016 election, hope a Republican would certainly be chosen president and nominate Scalia"s successor.

McConnell"s relocate was criticize as an unmatched breach of politics norms, yet he got his wish as soon as Mr. Trump was elected. Mr. Trump card nominated judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the seat in 2017, yet with the GOP possessing only a narrow majority in the Senate, McConnell and his Republicans reached for the nuclear option.

Once again, the parties flipped political parties on whether the nuclear option was justified. Brand-new York Sen. Chuck Schumer, the democratic leader, said he regretted the Reid had actually used the nuclear option in 2013, even though he had actually backed the move at the time. McConnell, one outspoken enemy of using the atom option when he was in the minority, currently justified its usage by citing what Reid did together precedent.

The Senate rules were readjusted for can be fried Court nominees, allowing them to be confirmed by a simple majority. The conservative Gorsuch was evidenced days later on to the Senate in a 54-to-45 vote.

What does that mean for Trump"s brand-new pick for the supreme Court?

Even despite Mr. Trump"s brand-new nominee won"t have to acquire 60 votes because of the nuclear option, getting to 51 could still it is in a struggle. Most -- though not all -- Democrats appear dead set against confirming anyone Mr. Trump card nominates, and Republicans only have 51 votes over there to begin with.

This means that Republicans will certainly likely need to stay unified in supporting Mr. Trump"s pick, which can get complicated if middle GOP Sens. Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins feel the nominee is also conservative, particularly on abortion rights.

There space three Democrats who voted for Gorsuch -- Sens. Joe Manchin the West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of phibìc Dakota and Joe Donnelly the Indiana. They"re every up because that re-election in 2018 in states that voted strongly for Donald trump in 2016, and also it"s not clear yet exactly how they"ll poll for the president"s second Supreme Court nominee, specifically given that this following justice, unequal Gorsuch, will change the balance of the court.

So when the atom option has made life much easier for Mr. Trump and the GOP when it concerns getting a can be fried Court pick, the doesn"t mean that the president"s nominee is have to a slam-dunk for confirmation.