Republicans refused to even vote on Garland's nomination, instead waiting for Obama to be out of office, letting the next President choose a nominee.
Gorsuch's confirmation essentially continues the ideological balance that existed before Scalia's death, with four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote between the blocs. Democratic senators are concerned about his ruling record as a judge in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, where he ruled conservatively on cases regarding religious freedom and civil rights.
The vote was 54 to 45 in favor of confirmation.
Democrats and some Republicans predicted dire fallout from McConnell's divisive Senate rules change that removed the 60-vote filibuster barrier for Supreme Court picks, warning of a more polarized Senate and court over time.
"In 20 or 30 or 40 years, we will sadly point to today as a turning point in the history of the Senate and the Supreme Court, a day when we irrevocably moved further away from the principles our founders intended for these institutions: principles of bipartisanship, moderation and consensus", Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.
The Supreme Court says Gorsuch will be sworn in as the 113th justice on Monday in separate ceremonies at the court and the White House.More news: Border wall bids feature monorail and nuclear trench
Even as Graham and other senior Republicans lamented the voting change, McConnell and some allies argued that all they were doing was returning to a time, not long ago, when filibusters of judicial nominees were unusual, and it was virtually unheard-of to try to block a Supreme Court nominee in that fashion.
The judge won support Friday from 51 of the chamber's Republicans as well as three moderate Democrats up for re-election in states Trump won last fall: Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Donnelly of Indiana. Republican Senator Johnny Isakson missed the vote. Mr Thune supports the rule change to confirm Mr Gorsuch. Gorsuch's confirmation comes after Senate Republicans used the controversial nuclear option on April 6, allowing them to shockingly change Senate rules that paved through Democrats' filibuster.
The Senate change, affecting how many votes a nominee needs to advance to a final confirmation vote, will apply to all future Supreme Court candidates as well. But then in 2013, with Democrats in charge and Republicans blocking President Barack Obama's nominees, the Democrats did take the step, removing the filibuster for all presidential appointments except the Supreme Court.
Trump has recorded accomplishments since taking office on January 20, including a variety of unilateral executive actions such as moving to undo Obama's climate change regulations. Samuel Alito reported he sometimes had trouble finding his way around as a new justice, and the challenge was all the greater because the court was going through a major renovation at the time. His administration also has faced questions about any role the president's associates may have played in alleged Russian meddling in the 2016 USA presidential election to help Trump. His ascension will restore the nation's highest court to its 5-4 conservative majority. The court also is likely to tackle transgender rights and union funding in coming years.
At 49 years old, Gorsuch will be the youngest member of the court. And the last round of oral arguments for this term is scheduled to begin in just 10 days, on April 17. He also will become the newest member of the court's cafeteria committee, where replacing Kagan will be no mean feat. "Judge Gorsuch is a very conservative judge and not one that I would have chosen".