The question "who is Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court nominee?" is destined to be on a lot of lips today (Tuesday), with the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals judge on the top of President Donald Trump's short list of picks.
President Trump is scheduled to announce his Supreme Court nominee tonight at 8 p.m. The president is seeking to fill the seat left vacant by Justice Antonin Scalia's death last year.
News reports say the president has narrowed the choice to either Judge Gorsuch or Judge Thomas Hardiman, who serves on the 3rd Circuit Court of Appeals.
The thinking among Washington's pundits is that Judge Gorsuch has the edge because he has far more in common with Justice Scalia, who was much loved by conservatives.
During the campaign, President Trump said he would "appoint judges very much in the mold of Justice Scalia."
This is where the case for Neil Gorsuch as Supreme Court nominee starts - and it explains why President Trump would select him...
Neil Gorsuch, Supreme Court Nominee, Is Nearly a Clone of Justice Scalia
One thing Justice Scalia was known for is his insistence on interpreting laws as they are written, as opposed to trying to discern the intent of the lawmakers. In the world of law, this is called textualism.
Judge Gorsuch praised - and endorsed - this trait shortly after Justice Scalia's death last year.
"Judges should strive, if humanly and so imperfectly, to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be," Gorsuch said in a speech to Case Western Reserve University's law school.
Justice Scalia was also a proponent of the related idea of "originalism," in which justices interpret laws according to the U.S. Constitution as it is written. So is Gorsuch.
Even their writing style is said to be similar. Legal experts say Judge Gorsuch's opinions, like Justice Scalia's, are precise, clear, and written with flair.
Judge Gorsuch also shares Justice Scalia's affable personality - something that could help defuse a potentially contentious Senate confirmation hearing. Senate Democrats vowed to block President Trump's nominee without even knowing who it would be.
And while Judge Gorsuch's resemblance to Justice Scalia is a major advantage, it's not the only one.
Almost every aspect of Judge Gorsuch's life suggests he was destined to be a Supreme Court justice...
Why Neil Gorsuch Is the Most Likely Supreme Court Nominee
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Neil Gorsuch, 49, was born in Colorado to a politically successful family. Both parents served in the Colorado General Assembly. His mother, Anne Gorsuch Buford, also served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency in the Reagan administration.
He attended Columbia University as an undergrad, where he helped found a conservative-minded newspaper intended to be a counterweight to the prevalent liberal thinking at the school.
Gorsuch went on to graduate from Harvard Law School, and for good measure earned a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University as a Truman Scholar.
He launched a private practice in Washington, D.C., where he worked primarily with corporate clients. In 2005, during the Bush administration, Gorsuch became the principal associate attorney general in the Justice Department.
The next year he was nominated by President George W. Bush to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
"Judge Gorsuch is a 'winner' - brilliant, pedigreed, tall, handsome - and Trump likes winners," David Lat wrote on his legal affairs blog Above the Law.
As a judge, his conservative credentials are rock solid.
That was particularly clear in the "Hobby Lobby" case, his most well-known. Judge Gorsuch ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor, who had argued that the Affordable Care Act's mandate they cover birth control violated their religious beliefs.
The case went on to the Supreme Court, which upheld Judge Gorsuch's decision by a 5-4 vote.
In other areas, Judge Gorsuch opposes the use of executive orders by presidents when they appear to infringe on the Constitutional duties of the legislative branch to make the laws.
He also isn't a fan of the power many government agencies have to create regulations with little or no oversight.
"We would see a judge who, while perhaps not as combative in personal style as Justice Scalia, is perhaps his intellectual equal, and almost certainly his equal on conservative jurisprudential approaches to criminal justice and social justice issues that are bound to keep coming up in the country," Justin Marceau, a University of Denver law professor, told The Denver Post.
- Above the Law blog: Is Judge Neil Gorsuch the Supreme Court Nominee?
- The Denver Post: Neil Gorsuch: Elite Credentials, Conservative Western Roots Land Denver Native on SCOTUS List
About the Author
David Zeiler, Associate Editor for Money Morning at Money Map Press, has been a journalist for more than 35 years, including 18 spent at The Baltimore Sun. He has worked as a writer, editor, and page designer at different times in his career. He's interviewed a number of well-known personalities - ranging from punk rock icon Joey Ramone to Apple Inc. co-founder Steve Wozniak.
Over the course of his journalistic career, Dave has covered many diverse subjects. Since arriving at Money Morning in 2011, he has focused primarily on technology. He's an expert on both Apple and cryptocurrencies. He started writing about Apple for The Sun in the mid-1990s, and had an Apple blog on The Sun's web site from 2007-2009. Dave's been writing about Bitcoin since 2011 - long before most people had even heard of it. He even mined it for a short time.
Dave has a BA in English and Mass Communications from Loyola University Maryland.