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Trump Names Gorsuch as Supreme Court Nominee

  • VOA News

President Donald Trump shakes hands with 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Neil Gorsuch, his choice for Supreme Court associate justice in the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 31, 2017.

President Donald Trump has nominated Colorado federal judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump stepped before television cameras in the White House Tuesday night to introduce Gorsuch, calling him a jurist whom the "country needs badly," and saying his qualifications are beyond dispute.

Gorsuch has "a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text," the president said.

Trump said that during the campaign, he promised voters to find the very best judge in the country. He said Gorsuch's resume and academic credentials -- including degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School -- are as good as it gets.

WATCH: Trump on Supreme Court nominee Gorsuch

He called on Democrats and Republicans in the Senate, which must confirm Gorsuch, to come together "for once, for the good of the country."

In later remarks, Gorsuch called an appointment to the Supreme Court "a most solemn assignment." He said if the Senate confirms him, he will do everything in his power to be "a faithful servant of the Constitution and the laws of this great country."

WATCH: Gorsuch's pledge to be faithful servant of Constitution

The 49-year-old Gorsuch would be one of the youngest justices ever to sit on the court. The nine-member court has had a vacant seat since the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative stalwart on the court for 30 years.

Gorsuch spoke of his admiration for Scalia, calling him a" lion of the law."

Conservative majority

Scalia's death left an eight-member court, split between conservatives and liberals. So the choice of Gorsuch could restore a conservative majority.

WATCH: Gorsuch on role of judges

Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York said Gorsuch has to prove himself to be "within the legal mainstream." He said he has "serious doubts" about Gorsuch's ability to "vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the executive branch" of government.

But Republican leader Mitch McConnell said Trump made an "outstanding decision" in choosing Gorsuch, saying the judge has a "long record of faithfully applying the law and the Constitution."

Some Senate Democrats are still seething over Republican refusal to hold confirmation hearings for former President Barack Obama's choice to replace Scalia, Judge Merrick Garland.

With the Republicans in charge of the Senate, there is almost no chance that hearings for Gorsuch will be blocked. But Gorsuch can expect tough questioning from Democrats.

White House spokesman Sean Spicer predicted Tuesday that President Trump's nominee would please voters who cast presidential ballots based on the future composition of the high court.

Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington after President Donald Trump announced Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court, Jan. 31, 2017.
Judge Neil Gorsuch speaks in the East Room of the White House in Washington after President Donald Trump announced Gorsuch as his nominee for the Supreme Court, Jan. 31, 2017.

"I can ensure you that this individual will make those voters and every American very, very proud," he said.

Spicer added that the president has taken the selection process very seriously. "He knows it will impact the courts of our country's jurisprudence for generations to come," Spicer said.

The appointee will likely consider hotly debated issues such as abortion, religious rights, transgender rights, the death penalty and gun control.

Appointed by Bush

Gorsuch, a native Coloradan, was appointed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver in 2006 by former President George W. Bush.

In 2013, Gorsuch joined an opinion saying that owners of private companies can object on religious grounds to an Affordable Care Act provision requiring employers to provide insurance coverage for birth control for women.

Judge Neil Gorsuch stands with wife Louise as President Donald Trump announces him as his choice for the Supreme Court at the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 31, 2017.
Judge Neil Gorsuch stands with wife Louise as President Donald Trump announces him as his choice for the Supreme Court at the East Room of the White House in Washington, Jan. 31, 2017.

Conservatives are hoping the Supreme Court will favor restrictions imposed on abortion by some Republican-governed states.

Since Scalia's death, the high court has avoided some controversial issues, including a high profile case involving Gavin Grimm, a female-born transgender high school student who identifies as a male. The case is currently under consideration after he sued in 2015 to win the right to use the school's boys' bathroom in Virginia.

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