Senate panel backs Trump choice for Supreme Court

Washington: The Senate Judiciary Committee narrowly approved President Donald Trump's nominee to fill the vacancy in the US Supreme Court, media reports said.

The vote on Monday to endorse the nomination of federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch broke down along partisan lines, with all 11 Republicans in favour and the committee's nine Democrats opposed, Efe news reported.

With the committee's approval, Gorsuch's nomination will now go to the full Senate, where a real battle will be fought over whether or not he will take a lifetime seat on the High Court.

Gorsuch, a staunch conservative who has the unanimous support of the 52 Republican senators, managed to convince three Democratic senators but needs the support of five more of that party's lawmakers to be confirmed by the Senate, which probably will vote on the matter on Friday.

The vote to confirm Gorsuch in the Senate Judiciary Committee comes just 62 days after Trump nominated him on January 31 to occupy the High Court seat vacated by the death of conservative Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.

Former President Barack Obama proposed Judge Merrick Garland for the seat, but the Republicans refused to allow a hearing to be held to examine his candidacy for a record 293 days arguing that it made no sense to approve him in an election year.