It's official: After a nearly year-long vacancy on the bench of the highest court in the land, federal Judge Neil Gorsuch could soon fill the seat left by Justice Antonin Scalia. When President Donald Trump announced on Jan. 31 that Gorsuch is his nominee for the Supreme Court, he brought an onslaught of questions about the circuit court judge's resume, his fitness for the position and many other queries about the job he'll do on the bench. They all boil down to one main point: why did Trump choose Gorsuch for the Supreme Court, and what factors or players may have swayed his decision?
Throughout the campaign season, Trump spoke multiple times about the type of person he'd appoint to the Supreme Court bench. In March of 2016, he remarked during a phone interview with Good Morning America that he'd appoint people who would investigate Hillary Clinton's email scandal from her time as Secretary of State. He expounded on his Supreme Court views in May when he released an 11-person shortlist of nominees, which didn't include his current nominee. In September, his campaign released a revised list of 21 potential nominees with primarily conservative backgrounds, and in his announcement speech, Trump said that Gorsuch came from his September list.
During a debate with Clinton a month prior to his shocking electoral win, Trump told audiences that he'd choose a "highly-respected" nominee who would uphold Second Amendment rights. Though Gorsuch doesn't have a particularly strong or apparent record on gun rights, his conservative background will likely cause him to be similar to Scalia on gun rights.
One potential reason Trump chose Gorsuch was for the judge's admiration and emulation of the man whose bench seat he's filling. Gorsuch once praised the late justice by saying that "perhaps the great project of Justice Scalia’s career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators," and his rulings as a circuit court judge seem very much on par with the conservative decisions for which Scalia was so beloved.
In picking Gorsuch, Trump has at the very least selected someone for a high-ranking position that has experience in his field. His stances on hot-button issues like abortion, immigration, gun rights and other conservative flashpoints are very much in line with the party whose support Trump needs now more than ever. His record may alarm Democrats, but as long as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, and the other left-leaning members of the court retain their seats, all is not lost.