President Trump has nominated conservative federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat which has been vacant since the passing of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The nomination announcement came on Tuesday night, during which Trump said, “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support.”
“Standing here in a house of history, and acutely aware of my own imperfections, I pledge that if I am confirmed I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country,” Gorsuch said on Tuesday.
The 49-year-old Gorsuch, a conservative judge who currently sits on the federal appeals court in Denver, is the youngest judge in 25 years to receive a Supreme Court nomination. He was praised highly by Republican lawmakers following the nomination, called a “phenomenal nominee” by House Speaker Paul Ryan, and described as “the kind of person that the founders envisioned sitting on the Supreme Court” by Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska to The Guardian.
Gorsuch has a strong educational and legal background. He earned his bachelor’s from Columbia University and his law degree from Harvard, and went on to receive his doctoral degree as a Marshall scholar at Oxford University. Gorsuch also clerked for two Supreme Court justices, including Bryan White and Anthony Kennedy, and has worked for a corporate law firm in Washington, D.C.
Gorsuch’s work during his legal career is noted for his clear and memorable writing and interpretation of the Constitution according to the time it was written — traits which Scalia had been known for during his career.
“There’s just an awful lot of Scalia-ness in Gorsuch’s views and Gorsuch’s opinions,” John Malcolm, the director of the Heritage Foundation’s Edwin Meese III Center for Legal and Judicial Studies, was quoted as saying by USA Today. “He thinks very, very deeply about the fundamental tenets of our democracy. Those are not quaint, fuzzy concepts to him.”
Gorsuch is also known for his defense of religious freedom, as he sided with several religious organizations and businesses in significant cases such as the Hobby Lobby case and the case involving Little Sisters of the Poor, in which the plaintiffs sought an exemption from the Affordable Care Act’s contraception mandate.
Meanwhile, Democratic lawmakers have expressed disapproval, saying that Gorsuch would be filling in a “stolen seat” if confirmed. Prior to Trump’s election, former President Barack Obama had nominated Merrick Garland to fill the Scalia’s seat, who Republican lawmakers refused to confirm.
“This is a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee, and I will do everything in my power to stand up against this assault on the court,” Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon was quoted as saying by The Guardian.
Gorsuch will need to receive 60 votes from the Senate to be confirmed, which means he will need at least eight of the Democrats’ votes, under the assumption that he receives all 52 Republican votes.
“As this process now moves to the Senate, I look forward with speaking with members from both sides of the aisle, to answering their questions and to hearing their concerns,” Gorsuch said Tuesday. “I consider United States Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world, and I respect the important role the Constitution affords it in the confirmation of our judges.”