US President Donald Trump has announced Neil Gorsuch as his Supreme Court pick. If confirmed by the Senate, the 49-year-old appeals court judge would swing the court to a conservative-majority position.
US President Donald Trump on Tuesday picked Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by the death of conservative judge Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago.
Appointing the 49-year-old appeals court judge for a life appointment could prove to be one of the Trump administration's most consequential moves, with ramifications that could long outlast the president's time in office. If approved by the Senate, Gorsuch will give conservatives a five-to-four advantage in the court.
Gorsuch, a Colorado native, attended Colombia University and Harvard Law School, and also completed a doctorate in legal philosophy at Oxford University. After several years in private practice, he went on to work in George W. Bush's Justice Department for two years before he was appointed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006.
"Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support," Trump said, adding that Gorsuch's resume is "as good as it gets."
Gorsuch is considered an "originalist" guided by the belief the constitution should be interpreted based on its original text and meaning.
"I respect ... the fact that in our legal order it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws," Gorsuch said following Trump's announcement. "It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands."
At 49, Gorsuch's appointment makes him the youngest Supreme Court nominee in over a quarter century.
The vacancy on the US Supreme Court arose when judge Scalia died almost a year ago. President Barack Obama had nominated U.S. Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland to fill the seat. However, Republican senators blocked the pick, saying the appointment should only be made after November's presidential election.
Despite Gorsuch's conservative track record, he is not expected to call into questions recent high profile rulings, such as on abortion and gay rights, which have narrowly divided the nine-seat court by five votes to four in recent years.
However, the Supreme Court's conservative tilt is likely to have a strong bearing on divisive issues such as gun control, the death penalty and religious rights.
Gorsuch's appointment requires 60 Senate votes to be confirmed. As Republicans hold a slim 52-seat majority, Trump's pick will still need to win over some Democratic votes.
Some Democrats, however, had already vowed to mount intense scrutiny and a stern challenge against whoever Trump would have picked in protest to what they view as the court's "stolen seat."
Following the announcement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said he had "very serious doubts" over Gorsuch's appointment.
"Gorsuch has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women's rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent justice on the Court," the Democratic senator from New York said in a statement.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell lauded Trump for making an "outstanding decision" in appointing Gorsuch, adding that he hoped Senate members would "show him fair consideration and respect the result of the recent election with an up-or-down vote on his nomination, just like the Senate treated the four first-term nominees of Presidents Clinton and Obama."
dm/jr (AP, Reuters, AFP)