President Donald Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court during a Tuesday press conference, filling a seat that has been vacant for 353 days since late Justice Antonin Scalia died last year.
Both Gorsuch and the other reported finalist for the position, Judge Thomas Hardiman, were invited to Washington, D.C. for Trump’s announcement. But only Gorsuch made the trip.
Gorsuch, 49, serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, where he has made a name for himself as a graceful writer. He is the youngest judge to be considered for the Court in a quarter of a century.
Trump opened his announcement by acknowledging Scalia, saying he promised the American people that he would “select someone who respects our laws” and will interpret them as written.
“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills,” Trump said, added that he had earned bipartisan support.
Gorsuch took the stage shortly after, praising Scalia for being a “lion of the law” and saying that he “cherished his wisdom and his humor.”
Gorsuch ended his remarks by saying he is looking forward to spending with “members on both sides of the aisle” and “answering their questions and hearing their concerns.”
The high-profile announcement was attended by many prominent Republicans, including Speaker Paul Ryan, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Jeff Flake of Arizona.
Scalia’s son Paul and wife Maureen also attended.
Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, and served as a law clerk to Justices Anthony Kennedy and fellow Coloradan Byron White. If chosen, he would be the first justice to serve with a colleague for whom he once worked.
With a clear, colloquial writing style, Gorsuch has written in favor of courts’ second-guessing government regulations, in defense of religious freedom and skeptically about law enforcement.
He has contended that courts give too much deference to government agencies’ interpretations of statutes.
He sided with two groups that mounted religious objections to the Obama administration’s requirements that employers provide health insurance that includes contraception for women.
He is the son of President Ronald Reagan’s Environmental Protection Agency chief, Anne Gorsuch.
He worked for two years in Bush’s Justice Department before Bush appointed him to his appeals court seat. He was confirmed by a voice vote in 2006.
Gorsuch has written 175 majority opinions and 65 concurrences or dissents in his decade on the 10th Circuit, according to Rebecca Love Kourlis, a former Colorado Supreme Court justice.
Gorsuch also is a notable advocate for simplifying the justice system to make it more accessible, Kourlis said.
Gorsuch is also an avid skier, fly fisherman and horseback rider, Kourlis said. He teaches at the University of Colorado’s law school in Boulder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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