On Tuesday night, President Donald Trump announced Neil Gorsuch as his nominee to the Supreme Court. The Court has had a vacant seat for nearly a year, since the death of Justice Antonin Scalia on Feb 13, 2016.
Originally from Denver, Gorsuch is a federal appellate on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, having been nominated to the position by President George W. Bush in 2006. Gorsuch, a vocal admirer of Scalia, shares many similarities with the late Justice’s ideology.
Both Gorsuch and Scalia received their law degrees from Harvard Law School, and just like Scalia, Gorsuch considers himself a Constitutional originalist. While many of President Trump’s cabinet nominations have received widespread criticism for lack of experience, Gorsuch’s credentials are strong. But the opposition to Gorsuch is not born from criticism of his judicial experience.
Gorsuch replaces former President Obama’s nominee for the Supreme Court, following an unprecedented effort by Senate Republicans to push back the confirmation vote until after the November election. The Senate Republicans got what they were hoping for – maintained control of the Senate and the election of their party’s nominee, Donald Trump.
Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon said on Monday morning that he will filibuster any nominee that is not Merrick Garland, and that the majority of his caucus will do the same. This means the Senate would need 60 votes to end the filibuster and confirm Gorsuch.
“This is a stolen seat,” said Merkley. “This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat. We will use every lever in our power to stop it.”
But, relative to past Supreme Court nominees, Senate Democrats have little justification to block the nomination. By most metrics, Gorsuch is a qualified candidate. Having practiced law for well over 20 years, he has experience working in private practice as well as within the U.S. Justice Department.
Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida described Gorsuch as a “highly qualified, mainstream jurist.” Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas has described Gorsuch as a “home run.”
President Trump has urged Senate Republicans to trigger the “nuclear option” in an attempt to block a filibuster. At only 49 years old, Gorsuch could be a prominent member of The Supreme Court for decades to come.