Politics

What You Should Know About President Donald Trump's Pick for the Supreme Court

January 31st 2017

By:
Danielle DeCourcey

President Donald Trump picked federal Judge Neil Gorsuch to be his nominee for the Supreme Court. If confirmed, he will fill a seat that's been vacant for nearly a year. 

The seat, once held by deceased conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, has been the focus of a power struggle between Democrats and Republicans since President Barack Obama unsuccessfully tried to fill the vacancy with Judge Merrick Garland last spring. 

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Gorsuch is a conservative judge in the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He attended top schools: Columbia University, Harvard Law School and the University of Oxford, and he was confirmed to his current appointment without a dissenting vote.

Judge Neil Gorsuch

Eric Citron from SCOTUS blog called Gorsuch an obvious choice in early January. 

"Both his pre-judicial resumé and his body of work as a judge make him a natural fit for an appointment to the Supreme Court by a Republican president," Citron wrote on Jan 13. "He is relatively young (turning 50 this year), and his background is filled with sterling legal and academic credentials."

The husband and father of two would be the youngest nominee to the Supreme Court in the last 25 years, according to The Hill. The lifetime appointment that Supreme Court justice's receive means that, if confirmed, Gorsuch's decisions could impact U.S. law for a long time. 

Here are three things to know about Gorsuch: 

1. Gorsuch has ruled against parts of Obamacare. 

Birth Control Pills

In the 2013 case Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, Gorsuch ruled against a mandate for private employers to offer insurance that covers the cost of contraceptive, siding with arguments that the mandate violated employers' religious freedom costs. Republicans are currently pushing to repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, which mandated that coverage. 

2. He's never made a ruling on abortion, but he's probably against it. 

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Some passages in Gorsuch's book, "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia," could be read as favoring an anti-abortion stance. In the book he writes, “all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong," according to The Washington Post. Also his ruling against the ACA mandate for employers said that the law would unfairly force private businesses to “underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.” 

3. Gorsuch is considered an "originalist" like Scalia. 

Gorsuch is considered an originalist, or a person who believes in a strict interpretation of the Constitution. This is very similar to Scalia's conservative approach to interpreting the law.

As the late justice explained, "The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted."

However, not everyone agrees an interpretation of the Constitution as "dead" is good for a society that's living. 

"The flip side of that is a static interpretation of the law that doesn't move with the times, doesn't move with the society," NPR legal affairs correspondent Nina Totenberg said after Scalia's sudden death in February 2016. "And that's the struggle that you see on the Supreme Court today, in some ways between some of the conservatives on the court and other members of the court."

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