On February 1, 2017, President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver, Colorado, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court left by Antonin Scalia’s death in February 2016. Indeed, since February 2016, the High Court has functioned with only eight members; four liberal Justices and four conservative Justices. Therefore, the confirmation of a ninth Justice to fill the vacant position, and establish a majority conservative bench, is likely to have a substantial impact on the outcome of controversial issues brought before the Court.
Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2006. Although he is considered a firm conservative, as was expected given President Trump’s public stance to fill the vacancy with a judge who embodies Scalia’s principles, he has garnered praise from both liberals and conservatives for his work as an appellate judge due to his reputation for conveying his ideas fluently and courteously.
A number of Democrats have already conveyed their opposition to Gorsuch’s nomination, which could prove problematic as he will need to win over some Democratic senators to get the 60 votes needed to clear procedural hurdles.However, setting the political climate aside, when Judge Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit in 2006, he was confirmed by the Senatewithout objection. Only time will tell if Judge Gorsuch will acquire enough support from Senate Democrats to overcome a filibuster given the immediate public opposition from Democrats following Gorsuch’s nomination, and whether he will be approved in time to hear oral arguments later this spring. Judge Gorsuch’s opinions on labor and employment topics suggest that he favors businesses, and his decisions reflect a distaste for overreaching agency action which could result in some limiting decisions if he is ultimately confirmed.
Who is Judge Gorsuch?
Prior to being appointed to the Tenth Circuit, Judge Gorsuch amassed an impressive resume. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia University in New York City in 1988 and his law degree from Harvard Law School, with honors, in 1991 where he was the editor of the Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy and classmates with former President Obama. Judge Gorsuch also earned a doctorate of legal philosophy from Oxford University in 2004, where he studied as a Marshall Scholar. Judge Gorsuch began his law career as a