President Trump picks Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

By Christie Zizo, Digital Media Producer
Last Updated: Wednesday, February 01, 2017, 11:33 AM EST

President Trump picked Judge Neil Gorsuch to be his nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court.

  • Federal Judge Neil Gorsuch is Supreme Court nominee
  • Considered a Justice Scalia style judge
  • Supports strict reading of the Constitution

The president made the announcement in a primetime address Tuesday night. He is filling the eighth seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year.

In Gorsuch, Trump said he had a candidate worry of Scalia's legacy on the bench.

"Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text," Trump said. "He will make an incredible Justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.” 

In his remarks, Gorsuch praised the other justices on the bench, including Justice Anthony Kennedy, who he clerked for. But he also said putting on the robes of a judge don't make them any smarter, but serves as a reminder of what is expected of them.

"I respect the fact that in our legal order, it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws," Gorsuch said. "It is the role of judges to apply, and not alter the work of the people's representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge."


Who is Neil Gorsuch?

Grosuch is emerging as the likely frontrunner on the shortlist. The 49-year-old serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He's a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School. He also served as a law clerk to Justice Anthony Kennedy. He was a high-ranking official in the Bush administration's Justice Dept. when he was appointed in 2006.

Gorush has written in favor of courts' second-guessing government regulation and supporting religious freedom. He perhaps best known for siding with two groups, one of them being craft company Hobby Lobby, against the Obama administration's requirements that employers provide health insurance that includes birth control. 

Gorsuch's lower court opinions have for the most part been held up by the U.S. Supreme Court. 

He is considered to be very similar in style to Justice Scalia in most areas of government. 

SCOTUSBlog has an in-depth profile of Gorsuch's opinions.

What happens next?

President Trump now will refer Judge Gorsuch to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee will spend time running background checks, gathering information and reviewing the record of the candidate.

The committee will hold a full hearing for the nominee, which can include witnesses for or against the nomination and an interview with the nominee himself.

The Senate Judiciary Committee then votes on whether to send the nominee to the full Senate. The committee can submit the nomination with a favorable recommendation, an unfavorable recommendation, or no recommendation at all.

Next the full Senate will debate and then vote on the nomination. The final vote only requires 51 votes to pass. 

At any time the process can be blocked. There are procedures available thate those opposing the nomination can use to block the nomination.

One way is to filibuster the vote in the full Senate, which would require 60 votes to stop. Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-New York, has already said he will fight for requiring Republicans to get those 60 votes to move forward.

Information from the Associated Press and SCOTUSBlog contributed to this report. 

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