Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court
February 8, 2017
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President Trump named Judge Neil Gorsuch as his preferred nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacancy on Jan. 31.
After an 11-month vacancy and just 11 days of President Trump’s administration, Gorsuch’s nomination is the fulfillment of one of Trump’s many campaign promises. The issue sparked major controversy between Republicans and Democrats after Scalia’s death, becoming one of the hottest in the presidential race.
Gorsuch, 49, is a federal judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, a court that, according to him, spans six states and serves “about 20 percent of the continental United States and about 18 million people.”
He teaches at the University of Colorado Law School and lives in Boulder, Colorado with his wife and two teenage daughters, two horses, two dogs, and a barn cat, according to CNN.
Gorsuch graduated from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, and Politico reported on Jan. 31 that he even attended Harvard Law with former President Barack Obama.
Professionally, Gorsuch is known as a conservative-leaning judge and a textualist. In his acceptance speech on Jan. 31, he said that it is “the rule of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives.” In this respect he resembles his predecessor, the late Antonin Scalia.
Gorsuch referred to Scalia in his acceptance speech as a “lion of the law.” His appointment would re-establish the ideological balance of the court prior to Scalia’s death, with four conservatives, four liberals, and one swing vote in Justice Kennedy, for whom Gorsuch once clerked.
Well-known Republicans such as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, Senator Ted Cruz, Governor Jeb Bush, and Governor John Kasich have all taken to Twitter in recent days to support Gorsuch’s nomination and laud his similarities to Scalia.
However, the path to confirmation will not be an easy one. Some Senate Democrats have promised a filibuster.
A filibuster is an obstructive tactic usually used by a Senate minority to hold the Senate floor. One or more members can debate and speak on the topic as long as possible. In effect this blocks legislation, or in this case, a vote on a Supreme Court nominee. It is one of the only tools that a Senate minority has to slow down a vote.
To break a filibuster, 60 senators must support Gorsuch’s nomination. Republicans currently hold a 52-48 majority in the Senate.
Republicans could also respond to this potential filibuster by rewriting the rules to only require 51 votes for confirmation. However, this would bring Democrats much closer to denying Gorsuch the seat if they can convince three Republicans to join their cause.