Ricochet is the best place on the internet to discuss the issues of the day, either through commenting on posts or writing your own for our active and dynamic community in a fully moderated environment. In addition, the Ricochet Audio Network offers over 50 original podcasts with new episodes released every day.
President Donald Trump has selected Neil M. Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. He made the announcement in a live, televised event from the White House that began at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
Gorsuch prevailed over the other finalists, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, and William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, and was easily confirmed by the Senate 10 years ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Colorado.
In the announcement, Trump said, “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support…. I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once, for the good of the country.”
At National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru praised the pick as a worth heir to Scalia.
He is, like Scalia, a textualist and an originalist: someone who interprets legal provisions as their words were originally understood.
Gorsuch is a Colorado native and the son of a Republican politician, the late Anne Gorsuch Burford, who was a state legislator and then director of the Environmental Protection Agency for President Reagan. He attended Columbia University and Harvard Law School, after which he clerked for D.C. Circuit Court judge David Sentelle. He then clerked for Supreme Court justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy in 1993–94. The next year he studied for a doctorate of philosophy at Oxford University under the legal philosopher John Finnis. After spending ten years at a law firm in Washington, D.C., Gorsuch went to work for the Justice Department in 2005–06. President George W. Bush nominated him to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, which covers Colorado, Kansas, Oklahoma, Utah, Wyoming, and New Mexico. His confirmation was quick and uncontroversial.
At SCOTUSblog, Andrew Hamm outlines his qualifications.
If Trump does nominate Gorsuch, the judge’s 49 years would make him – despite his gray hair – among the youngest of recent Supreme Court nominees (Justice Clarence Thomas was 43 when nominated, and Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Elena Kagan were both 50.). In the early 1980s, when Scalia was beginning his judicial career, Gorsuch was just beginning to assemble the glittering résumé that may have him at the cusp of an appointment to the court. President Ronald Reagan’s choice of Gorsuch’s mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, to head the Environmental Protection Agency in 1981 brought the Denver teenager to Washington, where he attended Bethesda’s Georgetown Preparatory School and won a national debate championship. Gorsuch completed his undergraduate degree at Columbia University, where he co-founded a student newspaper that gave voice to conservative viewpoints, and his law degree at Harvard Law School, which he attended on a Truman Scholarship…
Legal ethics and judicial standards seem to be of particular interest to Gorsuch, and, judging by his comments in his speech about Scalia, he takes seriously the fact that judges swear an oath to uphold the Constitution. Gorsuch has also modeled judicial conduct off the bench. For instance, when he gave the 2013 keynote address at the Federalist Society National Lawyers Convention in Washington, Gorsuch did not follow the pattern of past speakers (including sitting judges) by giving a “rabble-rousing speech” in the hopes of advancing their visibility and careers, according to one Federalist Society member. Instead, Gorsuch spoke more dryly about “law’s irony,” which both constrains and guarantees our freedom. When asked about the choice of topics by Richard Samp of the Washington Legal Foundation, Gorsuch said he felt constrained by the code of judicial conduct not to discuss anything controversial.
Hart suggests that Gorsuch is available, open and sociable “because he’s from Colorado.” And Gorsuch does love the state. He’s an avid fly fisher who enjoys being outdoors. With his wife, Louise, Gorsuch raises horses, chickens and goats, and often arranges ski trips with old friends and new associates from his former law firm. However, [Melissa Hart, a law professor at the University of Colorado] adds, she thinks Gorsuch would be willing to move back to Washington, “for the right job.” If Gorsuch does join the bench, she expects she will disagree with many of his rulings, but predicts he has the “smarts and intellectual seriousness” to become a “shaper of the court.”
The nomination is also getting support from unexpected places. Neal Katyal, former Solicitor General under President Obama, said:
“Judge Gorsuch is one of the most thoughtful and brilliant judges to have served our nation over the last century. As a judge, he has always put aside his personal views to serve the rule of law. To boot, as those of us who have worked with him can attest, he is a wonderfully decent and humane person. I strongly support his nomination to the Supreme Court.”