On Jan. 31 President Trump appointed Neil Gorsuch, a 10th circuit judge from Colorado, as a nominee for the Supreme Court Justice. The vacant seat resulted from Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last February.
This selection potentially creates ideological balance. Previously the court had only eight justices, now there will be four liberals, four conservatives and a single swing vote.
After careful consideration from Trump and Vice President Pence, Gorsuch was chosen from a pool of 20 candidates. Believed to have stellar qualifications, Trump says, “It is an extraordinary resume. As good as it gets.”
Although born in Denver, as a youth, Gorsuch lived in Washington D.C. His mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, was the first female administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Reagan administration.
Judge Gorsuch has an Ivy league background. Graduating in 1985 from Georgetown Preparatory School, he then earned his Bachelor’s at Columbia. From there he attended Harvard Law school receiving his Juris Doctor along with fellow classmate Barack Obama.
Later he went on to Oxford obtaining a doctor of philosophy degree in Law (legal philosophy). In addition, Judge Gorsuch served as a judicial clerk for Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit from 1991 to 1992, and then for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy from 1993 to 1994.
From 1995 to 2005, Gorsuch was a lawyer at the Washington, D.C., law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel.
In 2006, he was nominated by President George W. Bush to the 10th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.
At the age of 49, Gorsuch would be the youngest appointed, thereby living and carrying out Trump’s policies. He was among the 11 judges named on the second of two lists that was released to quell fears among conservatives about his ideological mold. His nomination would strengthen support among conservatives.
However, Democratic opposition quickly grew, labeling Gorsuch as an extremist. Bitter resentment remains after Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick B. Garland, was refused consideration by the Republican controlled senate. Judge Garland was viewed as a liberal-moderate by most legal scholars.
After Trump’s unexpected victory, conservatives rejoiced while Democrats refused to go down without a fight. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said, “Judge 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.”
He continued, “Make no mistake, Senate Democrats will not simply allow but require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch fitness to be a Supreme Court justice.”
Trump also mentioned, “The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute. I only hope that Democrats and Republicans can come together for one, for the good of the country.”
Judge Gorsuch is seen as favoring religious liberty as shown in his opposition to the Obamacare contraceptive mandate, and on the separation of powers, where he said too much deference was given by the courts to administrative agencies.
Following Trump’s announcement at Washington, Judge Gorsuch said he was humbled by his “most solemn assignment.” Gorsuch continued, “I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country.”