News: CJ Exclusives

Trump picks Gorsuch for Supreme Court vacancy

President Donald Trump introduces U.S. Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, accompanied by his wife Louise, Tuesday at the White House. (Image from C-Span)
President Donald Trump introduces U.S. Circuit Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, accompanied by his wife Louise, Tuesday at the White House. (Image from C-Span)

President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated the youngest Supreme Court justice in a generation, 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch, who sits on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Gorsuch is a Colorado native who was educated at Harvard and Oxford universities. He clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, worked in the Bush administration Justice Department before winning easy confirmation to the 10th Circuit in 2006, and is known for his clear, conversational writing style.

Ramesh Ponnuru of the American Enterprise Institute called Gorsuch “a well-respected conservative whose legal philosophy is remarkably similar to that of Antonin Scalia, the justice he will replace if the Senate confirms him. He is, like Scalia, a textualist and an originalist: someone who interprets legal provisions as their words were originally understood.”

Unlike Scalia, however, Gorsuch has expressed skepticism about agencies that have interpreted regulations more broadly than statutes would suggest. Emory University law professor Sasha Volokh also wrote that, “of the three judges who were apparently on Trump’s short list — Judge Gorsuch is probably the best on civil liberties issues.”

Early support for Gorsuch came from N.C. Republican Party Chairman Robin Hayes, who said in a statement:

“Tonight, President Trump fulfilled one of his biggest campaign promises to the American people by selecting Neil Gorsuch, a mainstream conservative to serve on the United States Supreme Court. I am confident Gorsuch will faithfully uphold the Constitution, protect our individual rights, and preserve the idea of limited government.”

North Carolina’s U.S. senators, both Republicans, issued statements backing the Gorsuch pick.

“Judge Neil Gorsuch is an incredibly qualified and mainstream choice to serve on the Supreme Court. He has proven himself to be a judge who approaches every case before him with fairness, and bases his decisions on the rule of law. I hope my colleagues in the Senate, regardless of party, will join me in thoughtfully considering Judge Gorsuch as our next Supreme Court Justice,” said Sen. Thom Tillis.

“I applaud President Trump’s selection of Judge Neil Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court. In 2006, the Senate confirmed him without opposition to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Gorsuch is a judge who will continue to operate in accordance with the rule of law and respect for the Constitution. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has repeatedly expressed his desire to have nine Justices serving on the Supreme Court. Now that the American people have spoken, and the president has nominated a mainstream jurist, I am hopeful that the Senate will come together and swiftly confirm Judge Gorsuch,” said Sen. Richard Burr.

Democrats, who control 48 of the 100 Senate seats, have vowed to give Gorsuch tough scrutiny and have threatened to filibuster any of Trump’s nominations. If that happens to Gorsuch, Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell may have to use the “nuclear option,” allowing the confirmation to go forward with the approval of fewer than 60 senators.