Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appellate judge from Colorado, would give Trump and Republicans the opportunity to confirm someone who could cement the conservative direction of the court for decades.
His selection will also undoubtedly set up conflict with Senate Democrats still angry over the Republicans’ decision to disregard President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the empty Supreme Court seat last year.
Before introducing Gorsuch, Trump said he had committed as a candidate to “find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.”
“Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue for them when they voted for me for president,” Trump said. “I am a man of my word. Today I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”
The court has been operating for almost a year with eight justices since the sudden death last of Justice Antonin Scalia last February. If confirmed, Gorsuch would continue the ideological balance that existed before Scalia’s death, with four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote.
The selection of Gorsuch, who sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, from a list of 20 potential justices compiled during Trump’s presidential campaign, will appeal to a majority of conservative and evangelical voters skeptical about his commitment to their values.
Gorsuch’s has sided with the challengers to the so-called Obamacare contraceptive mandate, and on the separation of powers, where he said too much deference was given by the courts to administrative agencies. At 49, he could carry on Trump’s legacy long after the President leaves office.
Conservatives praise Gorsuch for his views on religious liberty; he sided with Hobby Lobby in the company’s well-known case opposing Obamacare’s provision requiring employers’ health insurance plans to include coverage of birth control, according to CNN
The average time between nomination and confirmation to the Supreme Court is about eleven weeks. No date has yet been set for his confirmation hearing.