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Political battle begins over Supreme Court nominee

Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's pick for the US Supreme Court, has begun his confirmation hearings in Washington. (WSYX/WTTE)

Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump's pick for the US Supreme Court, has begun his confirmation hearings in Washington. Republicans have rallied around their nominee, but Democrats have vowed to put up a fight.

Republicans, like Secretary of State Jon Husted, said the party is more united behind Gorsuch than anything else.

"It's probably the number one reason I heard when someone said, 'why are you voting for Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton?' It was about the Supreme Court nominee," Husted said.

Democrats are still angry President Barack Obama's nominee never had a hearing. Merrick Garland's nomination was stalled by Republicans for more than a year.

"It still feels to many Democrats like this seat has been stolen," said David Pepper, the chair of the Ohio Democratic Party. "There's still, I think, really hard feelings about what happened there. It's a terrible precedent that probably makes this harder this time."

Republicans made the vacancy on the Supreme Court a central issue during the 2016 campaign.

"That's what this election was about," Husted said. "This was one of the primary issues that was decided in the conversation of last November's election."

Gorsuch will be grilled by Senators about where he stands on issues the court may tackle like abortion and immigration.

Democrats will want to see if he's in the mainstream enough to win some of them over.

"There's a lot of people concerned, especially when he's filling this current seat and the court is so close, what he will mean on big issues," Pepper said.

Gorsuch will need 60 votes to be confirmed unless Republicans decide to change the longstanding rules and require just a simple majority.

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