Who Is Neil Gorsuch, Trump’s Leading Contender for SCOTUS

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Jurist Neil Gorsuch
Jurist Neil Gorsuch

ABC News says Trump’s top pick for Supreme Court Justice is 49-year-old Judge Neil Gorsuch who currently presides over the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado.

A  President George W. Bush nominee, his background includes clerkships under U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy and a law degree from Harvard.

Gorsuch has been compared to the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he could be filling, in terms of originalism, or taking the Constitution as it was written, and a colorful writing style.

Los Angeles Times report states that he “does not have a record of strident comments that would fuel a confirmation fight.”

President Trump said he will announce his SCOTUS pick next week.

The Colorado jurist is best known for upholding religious liberty rights in the legal battles over Obamacare.

“He is very bright, well-respected and quite personable,” said John Malcolm, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation. “And there’s no question he would not be as contentious as some others.”

Until recently, the two top contenders for the first Supreme Court nomination by Trump were believed to be Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, who serves on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, and Judge Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, who serves on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court in Chicago. Trump mentioned them in a Republican debate after Scalia died.

Pryor appeared to have an edge because he is a protege of Sen. Jeff Sessions.

They would be far more contentious however.

Neil Gorsuch was educated at a prep school in Maryland and has degrees from Columbia University, Harvard Law School and Oxford University, where he earned a doctorate in legal philosophy.

His best-known opinions grew out of the dispute over the Obama administration’s regulation requiring employers to provide female employees with the full range of contraceptives as part of their health insurance.

Shortly before he became a judge, Gorsuch wrote a book for Princeton University Press, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia,” which reviewed the history and the legal arguments for and against permitting people to have help in ending their lives. He concluded arguing for “retaining the laws banning assisted suicide and euthanasia … based on the idea that all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Eric Citron, who writes for SCOTUSblog, described the “downright eerie” similarities between Gorsuch and Scalia:

Gorsuch’s opinions are exceptionally clear and routinely entertaining; he is an unusual pleasure to read, and it is always plain exactly what he thinks and why. Like Scalia, Gorsuch also seems to have a set of judicial/ideological commitments apart from his personal policy preferences that drive his decision-making. He is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia). In fact, some of the parallels can be downright eerie.


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