The anticipation has been building since Donald Trump was elected president and on Tuesday evening, he finally revealed that he's nominated Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court justice. Chances are, you've never heard of the federal appeals court judge, but there are some things you should know about him before the confirmation process proceeds any further.
While announcing his first pick to replace late Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump praised Gorsuch's education and interpretation of the Constitution:
Judge Gorsuch has a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text. He will make an incredible Justice as soon as the Senate confirms him.
Though he waited until prime time hours to announce his pick, Trump's eventual decision didn't come as a huge surprise. Gorsuch was included on Trump's short list of potential Supreme Court nominees alongside Judges Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor. During his campaign, Trump had released a list that included 21 individual contenders.
Accepting the nomination, Gorsuch said:
Standing here in a house of history and acutely aware of my own imperfections, I pledge that if I am confirmed I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the constitution and laws of this great country.
Here's what you should know before deciding whether or not he can follow through on that promise.
1. He Definitely Leans Right
He may be exceptionally young for a Supreme Court justice nominee, but Gorsuch isn't particularly progressive. If he's nominated, he will likely swing the court to the right.
2. He Would Be The Youngest Supreme Court Nominee In 25 Years
Gorsuch is 49 years old, which is pretty young for a Supreme Justice who's expected to serve for life (or until they choose to retire). If Gorsuch is confirmed, he will likely influence Supreme Court decisions for decades. If he lives as long as 83-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, for example, he'll be interpreting the Constitution for the next 30 years at least.
3. His Record On Abortion Rights Is Minimal
Trump promised he would nominate a Supreme Court justice committed to overturning Roe v. Wade. Though Gorsuch pro-life, it's unclear whether or not he'd support overturning the 1973 landmark case. In 2005, he wrote in an op-ed for The National Review:
This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary.
This hints that he might not be willing to reconsider Roe v. Wade, but it's hard to tell. He's never written an opinion on the case.
4. But He Opposes Mandatory Birth Control Coverage
In the case Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v. Sebelius, Gorsuch wrote that the ACA's birth control coverage forces employers to "underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg." That statement isn't supported in the slightest by scientific research about how birth control works.
5. Pro-Choice Groups Are Not In Favor
In a statement, NARAL Pro-Choice America president Ilyse Hogue said that Gorsuch represents an "existential threat to legal abortion." And according to Vox, Vicki Saporta, National Network of Abortion Funds CEO, described Gorsuch as "a far-right jurist who would overturn basic and well-established principles of American law."
6. He's Been Compared To Late Justice Antonin Scalia
According to SCOTUSblog, the comparisons between Scalia and Gorsuch are "downright eerie." Contributor Eric Citron wrote that both men's personal beliefs, for example, didn't always match up with their legislative decisions. Both were also in favor of preserving religious expression in public areas.
7. He Stood Up For Hobby Lobby
Gorsuch's interpretation of religious freedom means that he backed Hobby Lobby's refusal to cover birth control for its employees. In 2014, when the Supreme Court voted on the case, this issue was extremely divisive.
Though Gorsuch hasn't been outspoken when it comes to abortion rights and gay marriage, there are plenty of reasons to monitor his every move. And if you disagree with his stance in the Hobby Lobby case or on his conservative ideology and anti-choice leanings, protest his nomination.