President Trump in a televised prime-time event at the White House announced federal Judge Neil Gorsuch as his pick to the Supreme Court, fulfilling his campaign promise he made to social conservative to name a conservative judge to fill the vacant seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
“Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue to them and I am a man or my word and will do what I say, something the American people have been asking of Washington for a very long time,” Trump said before announcing Gorsuch.
“Today, I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court,” Trump added. “Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text. He will make an incredible Justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.”
After weeks of meeting and vetting candidates from his list of 21 possible choice he made public last year during the presidential campaign, Trump narrowed the choice down to two federal judges: Neil Grouch and Thomas Hardiman.
In accepting the nomination, Gorsuch pledged to “be a faithful servant of the constitution and laws” and called the late Justice Scalia, a “lion of the law.”
“I pledge that if I am confirmed I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country,” Gorsuch said. “As this process now moves to the Senate, I look forward with speaking with members from both side of the aisle, to answering their questions and to hearing their concerns. I consider the United States Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world, and I respect the important role the Constitution affords it in the confirmation of our judges.”
Gorsuch, who serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado, was appointed to the bench by President George W. Bush in 2006. In 2013, Gorsuch sided with Hobby Lobby and The Little Sisters of the Poor in its appellate challenge of the Obamacare’s mandate that required employers to cover birth control as part of its health plan.
Since Justice Scalia passing, the court for the past year has been ideologically split of four conservative justices and four liberals.
Some Democrat Senators have pledged to try to block a vote on Trump’s nominee, in retaliation for feeling that the seat was stolen. Last year, Senate Republicans refused to hold a hearing for President Obama nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, arguing the decision of the vacant seat should be made by the next president.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer in a statement released shortly after the announcement stated Senate Democrats will “require an exhaustive, robust, and comprehensive debate on Judge Gorsuch’s fitness” and “doubts” Gorsuch meets the standard.
“The Senate must insist upon 60-votes for any Supreme Court nominee,” Schumer said in a statement. “The burden is on Judge Gorsuch to prove himself to be within the legal mainstream and willing to vigorously defend the Constitution from abuses of the Executive branch and protect the constitutionally enshrined rights of all Americans. Given his record, I have very serious doubts about Judge Gorsuch’s ability to meet this standard.”
Democrat Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon has already made up his mind, remaining bitter of the GOP refusing to give Garland a hearing, has promised to filibuster anyone Trump’s selects.
“This is a stolen seat,” Merkley told Politico on Monday. “This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat. We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
60 votes are needed to confirm in the Senate.
As a Senate confirmation showdown is likely to ensue, Republican Senators are ready to stop the Democrats tactics — by gutting the filibuster if Democrats attempt to block the pick. If the Democrats attempt such measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can retaliate by using the “nuclear option” of reducing the threshold of 60 votes to 51 votes. This move, if used would easily confirm the pick nomination since Republicans hold the majority with 52 seats.
McConnell, in a statement praised Trump pick, calling the pick of Gorsuch an “outstanding decision and urges Democrats not to block the nomination.
“I hope members of the Senate will again show [Gorsuch] fair consideration and respect the result of the recent election with an up-or-down vote on his nomination, just like the Senate treated the four first-term nominees of President Clinton and Obama.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan called Gorsuch a “phenomenal nominee” and is confident that the Senate will confirm his nomination.
Vice President Mike Pence tweeted his support for Gorsuch, calling him an “exceptionally qualified” nominee.
Judge Gorsuch is one of the most mainstream, respected, and exceptionally qualified Supreme Court nominees in American history.
— Vice President Pence (@VP) February 1, 2017
Conservative groups have planned to defend Trump’s selection. The Conservative Judicial Crisis Network has planned to launch $10 million ad buy once the president announces his selection. The ad is an attempt to put pressure on Senators in states where Trump won and where ten Democrats are up for reelection in 2018.
If confirmed, Gorsuch would be the youngest member of the court, carrying Trump’s legacy for years after the President leaves office.
No date has been scheduled yet for Gorsuch confirmation hearing.