If approved by the Senate, Gorsuch would take the seat left vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year

By Karen Mizoguchi
January 31, 2017 09:36 PM
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

President Donald Trump has chosen Neil M. Gorsuch as his Supreme Court Justice nominee.

“Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support,” Trump said in his announcement speech on Tuesday.

Gorsuch was among the 21 possible choices for the court Trump released during the campaign, and was one of three finalists along with William Pryor and Thomas M. Hardiman.

If approved by the Senate, the Denver-native would take the seat left vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year.

Here are five things you need to know about Trump’s nominee:

1. Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in 25 years

At 49, Gorsuch is the youngest nominee in a quarter century to the lifetime position on the Supreme Court. (Justice Clarence Thomas was 43 when nominated, and Chief Justices John Roberts and Elena Kagan were both 50.)

If confirmed, Gorsuch would be the first former law clerk to serve on the bench alongside an old boss, current Justice Anthony Kennedy.

Gorsuch attended Bethesda’s Georgetown Preparatory School before receiving his undergraduate education from Columbia University. He graduated from Harvard Law School, in the class of 1991, with former President Barack Obama, and went on to earn a Doctorate of Legal Philosophy at Oxford University.

2. He has been around the law his whole life

Gorsuch comes from a long line of legal professionals. His parents, David Gorsuch and Anne Gorsuch Burford, were both lawyers, as well as his grandfather John Gorsuch.

The newly named SCOTUS nominee first came to Washington, D.C. in 1981, as a 14-year-old when his mother was appointed by President Ronald Reagan as the first female administrator of Environmental Protection Agency.

In the early 1990s, Gorsuch clerked for Judge David Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit and for the U.S. Supreme Court under Justice Kennedy and retired Justice Byron White.

On May 10, 2006, President George W. Bush nominated Gorsuch to the 10th Circuit, and was confirmed in the Senate by unanimous voice vote.

3. He has a history with Obamacare

Gorsuch has been known in recent years to uphold religious liberty in legal battles with the Obamacare. In both Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius and Little Sisters of the Poor Home for the Aged v. Burwell, Gorsuch sided with the claimants seeking religious exemptions for paying for contraception as required under the Affordable Care Act, according to TIME.

In Hobby Lobby, Gorsuch wrote that the government should not force people with “sincerely held religious beliefs” into “conduct their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.” His positions in both of these cases were largely upheld when they reached the Supreme Court.

4. Like Scalia, Gorsuch can write

Legal scholars have described Gorsuch as “the most natural replacement” for late Justice Scalia, both stylistically and in his textualist interpretation of the Constitution, as reported by TIME.

Along with his many published op-eds and letters, Gorsuch released his first book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, in 2006. He is also one of 12 co-authors of The Law of Judicial Precedent, published in 2016.

5. He raises chickens, goats and horses 

With his wife, Louise, and two daughters, Emma, 17, and Belinda, 15, Gorsuch raises horses, chickens and goats in their Colorado barn, according to the SCOTUS blog.

In addition, he’s an avid fly fisher who enjoys being outdoors and often goes on ski trips.

For more on Gorsuch, follow his new Twitter account, @GorsuchFacts, that was created minutes after Trump’s announcement.

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