President Donald Trump on Tuesday selected federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch for a vacancy on the U.S. Supreme Court, moving to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia with someone strongly backed by more conservative groups, as Mr. Trump urged Democrats to support his nominee.
“The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute,” President Trump said at the White House, as he praised Gorsuch’s experience as a lawyer and appellate judge.
“It is an extraordinary resume,” the President said. “As good as it gets.”
“Justice Scalia was a lion of the law,” Judge Gorsuch said in accepting his nomination, as he thanked the President for the opportunity.
“Mr. President, I am honored, and I am humbled,” Gorsuch added to applause.
Gorsuch was immediately praised by GOP Senators.
“The President has nominated a mainstream and faithful constitutionalist to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Todd Young (R-IN).
Conservatives had clearly signaled their approval of Gorsuch in recent days, wanting someone in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in February of 2016.
At 49 years old, Gorsuch could be on the court for decades if he is confirmed.
“Gorsuch has been tested on the major issues conservatives care about: life, religious liberty, guns, and judicial restraint,” said radio host Erick Erickson.
“He has a paper trail on those issues that is consistent over time, he has an intellectual pedigree that makes him the proper replacement for Scalia,” Erickson added.
Intellectually, he certainly seems to be a match for Scalia, whose acerbic wit was evident both on the bench and in opinions.
Gorsuch was nominated for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006 by President George W. Bush; the nomination faced no controversy, as Gorsuch was approved by the full Senate on a voice vote.
Judge Gorsuch is no stranger to Washington, D.C. – he was a Page in the Senate in the 1980’s – about the same time that I was getting my start on Capitol Hill as a House Page.
The judge’s mother, Ann Gorsuch, was the EPA Director during the Reagan Administration. She had a somewhat tumultuous time in that job, creating controversy with her efforts to make cuts in the EPA budget and reducing regulations.
It was once said of his mother that, “she could kick a bear to death with her bare feet.”
After law school, Judge Gorsuch clerked at the U.S. Supreme Court, working both for current Justice Anthony Kennedy (nominated by President Reagan), and former Justice Byron White (nominated by President Kennedy).
“Justice White used to tell us in chambers, ‘Two heads are
better than one,'” Gorsuch told the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2006.
“He is right,” Gorsuch continued. “So I think working with your colleagues and trying to get to agreement is hugely important.”
As for precedent in law, Gorsuch said this:
“Precedent is to be respected and honored. It is not something to be diminished or demeaned. It is something you should try to uphold wherever you can, with the objective being, follow the law as written and not replace it with my own preferences, or anyone else’s,” Gorsuch said.
“Senator, my personal views, as I hope I have made clear, have nothing to do with the case before me in any case. The litigants deserve better than that, the law demands more than that.”
Reading that line sort of reminded me of Chief Justice John Roberts during his confirmation hearings, when he told Senators that his “job is to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat.”
Unlike President Obama’s choice to fill this same seat, Merrick Garland, Gorsuch will get a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee.
But it’s not clear if Gorsuch can get confirmed; Democrats remain aggravated by last year’s Republican blockade of Garland, as some have already vowed to filibuster, meaning the GOP will need 60 votes to advance the Gorsuch nomination in the Senate.