Pro-Life Justice Nominated to US Supreme Court


US President Donald Trump has lived up to his pre-election promise to nominate a pro-life justice to the US Supreme Court. He named Judge Neil Gorsuch, a US Appeals Court Judge, to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court created by the death, last year, of Justice Antonin Scalia. Judge Gorsuch’s nomination must be confirmed by the US Senate where Democrat Senators have vowed to oppose him.


President Trump described Judge Gorsuch as “a man who our country really needs, and needs badly, to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice.”


“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support,” Mr Trump said, standing beside the judge and his wife, Louise, as White House officials and Republican lawmakers looked on. “It is an extraordinary résumé — as good as it gets.”


But Democrats — embittered by Republican refusals for nearly a year to consider President Barack Obama’s choice to succeed Justice Scalia — promised a showdown over Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation.


Joined by liberal groups that plotted for weeks to fight President Trump’s eventual nominee, leading Democrats signaled they would work to turn the Supreme Court dispute into a referendum on the president, and what they contend is his disregard for legal norms and the Constitution. Conservatives and business groups cheered Judge Gorsuch, calling his record distinguished and his qualifications unparalleled.


Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader, said he would insist that Judge Gorsuch meet the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate to overcome a filibuster for his confirmation to move forward. That would either require eight Democrats to join the Senate’s 52 Republicans to advance the nomination, or force Republicans to escalate a parliamentary showdown — as President Trump has already urged them to do — to change longstanding rules and push through his nominee on a simple majority vote.


“I hope members of the Senate will again show him 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 Presidents Clinton and Obama,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader. He noted that the Senate confirmed Judge Gorsuch without opposition in 2006 to his current seat on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.


If confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would become the 113th justice and take a seat held not only by Justice Scalia, but also by Justice Robert Jackson, perhaps the finest writer to have served on the court. As an Episcopalian, Judge Gorsuch would be the only Protestant seated among five Catholics and three Jewish jurists.


He would restore the 5-to-4 split between conservatives and liberals on the court, returning the swing vote to Justice Anthony Kennedy, whose rulings have fallen on both sides of the political spectrum.


At 49, Judge Gorsuch is the youngest nominee to the Supreme Court in 25 years, underscoring his potential to shape major decisions for decades to come. In choosing him, President Trump reached for a reliably conservative figure in Justice Scalia’s mold, but not someone known to be divisive.


A Colorado native who was in the same class at Harvard Law School as President Obama, Judge Gorsuch is known for his well-written, measured opinions that are normally, though not exclusively, conservative. He holds a doctorate from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar, and was a Supreme Court law clerk to Justices Byron White and Kennedy. That Judge Gorsuch has a personal connection to Justice Kennedy is no accident. By choosing a familiar figure, several officials said, the White House is sending a reassuring signal to Justice Kennedy, 80, who has been mulling retirement.


Choosing a more ideologically extreme candidate, the officials said, could have tempted Justice Kennedy to hang on to his seat for several more years, depriving President Trump of another seat to fill.


“It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives,” Judge Gorsuch said at the announcement of his nomination. “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.”

The New York Times. January 31.

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