(WASHINGTON) — President Donald Trump announced he would be nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court vacancy left in the wake of Justice Antonin Scalia’s unexpected death last year.
President Trump announced the choice at the White House Tuesday evening.
Here’s what you need to know about the potential Supreme Court justice:
Gorsuch, 49, is currently a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals. He was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2006 and confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote.
Gorsuch clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. He attended Harvard Law and has a Ph.D. from Oxford, where he was a Marshall Scholar. In legal circles, he’s considered a gifted writer. Like Scalia, he’s both a textualist and an originalist.
He is the author of The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, which looks at the legal and ethical issues surrounding assisted suicides. In the book, he concludes that any form of euthanasia should not be legalized.
When it comes to religious liberties and access to contraception, Gorsuch is a defender of the “Free Exercise Clause,” which says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.
Gorsuch sided with Christian employers and religious organizations in the Burwell vs. Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases. The plaintiffs argued for an exemption from the contraception mandate in President Obama’s signature health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act, due to religious beliefs.
In the Hobby Lobby case, Gorsuch wrote, “The ACA’s mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.”
When it comes to criminal procedure, he dissented in the United States v. Carlos case, arguing that police officers violated the Fourth Amendment when they entered a home that had a “No Trespassing” sign posted.
What others have said
One of Donald Trump’s Supreme Court advisers said the process of picking a nominee is “very far along.”
“There is a lot of information in the hopper about who these people are and what their records are like and what qualities they have to serve on the Supreme Court,” Leonard Leo told ABC News’ Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on the “Powerhouse Politics” podcast on Wednesday, Jan. 25.
Though Leo cautioned he would “never assume a front-runner,” he spoke highly of Gorsuch, who sits on the bench of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
“He has very, very distinguished background,” Leo said. “He has probably 200 or so published opinions as an appeals clerk judge. They are extremely eloquently written, they’re incisive, understandable, clear, opinionated.”
Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley told ABC News that Gorsuch is a “very intelligent person” who would not be that different from Scalia, the justice he would be replacing.
He has a “coherent and consistent view of the constitution,” Turley said.
And Gorsuch does not have a firm position on abortion, which could help him in the confirmation process, Turley noted.
If nominated, Gorsuch would be the youngest Supreme Court nominee in about 25 years.
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