WASHINGTON (AP) – President Donald Trump was announced his choice to fill the vacancy on the Supreme Court as Neil Gorsuch.
The president unveiled his pick during an 8 p.m. EST televised address from the White House.
Trump made his selection from a group of three finalists, all federal appeals court judges appointed by former President George W. Bush: Neil Gorsuch, Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor.
Each appeared on Trump’s list of 21 possible choices that he made public during the campaign, and each has met with Trump to discuss the vacancy that arose when Antonin Scalia died nearly a year ago.
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. 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.