President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court Justice vacancy.
Gorsuch, originally from Colorado, attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He also graduated from Oxford University as a Marshall Scholar.
If approved, Gorsuch will replace the late Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February of 2016. Since Scalia’s death, the Supreme Court has been operating with only eight justices, presenting a challenge since multiple court cases have resulted in a 4-4 decision. During former President Obama’s administration, Republicans refused to replace Scalia with Obama’s pick, Appellate Judge Merrick Garland.
“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous disciple, and has earned bipartisan support,” Trump said.
There are striking similarities between Gorsuch and Scalia, who was infamous for his homophobic rhetoric. Both have been vocal about protecting religious freedom. Gorsuch voted in favor of employers at Hobby Lobby who refused to provide contraception coverage to female employees. He wrote a book in 2006 strongly arguing against allowing the terminally ill to end their lives. Gorsuch also dismissed a transgender woman who was denied access to hormone therapy while incarcerated, indicating that this was not cruel and unusual punishment. The Human Rights Campaign has already voiced its dissent against Gorsuch, noting these past actions.
Although a favorite of conservatives, Gorsuch also has the potential to win over the eight Democratic votes needed to confirm his position. He is famous for challenging constitutional principles when it comes to issues like criminal law and the rights of religious minorities.
Gorsuch, age 49, is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in twenty-five years. If nominated, he will be expected to serve until he retires, although many judges have served for life. At such a young age, Gorsuch will play a major role in shaping the future of gun rights, immigration, police protocol, and transgender rights for many years to come.