By Dru Barcelo
Former Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals member Neil Gorsuch is President Donald Trump’s nominee to fill the Supreme Court seat vacated by former Justice Antonin Scalia just over a year ago. At the age of 49, Republican Party affiliate Gorsuch holds strong conservative values, is most renowned for his stance on religious freedom, and a favorite amongst legal conservatives.
Gorsuch has an admirable record, attending Columbia University to obtain his B.A, a J.D from Harvard Law School, and a D.Phil from Oxford University. He was a clerk for the U.S. Appeals court from 1991 until 1992, and then for the U.S Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy from 1993 until 1994. Afterwards he moved on to private law firms. From 2005 to 2006, Gorsuch served as Principal Deputy to Associate Attorney General Robert McCallum at the Department of Justice.
Most notably, Gorsuch was nominated to a seat on the U.S. Court of Appeals Tenth Circuit by George W. Bush in 2006, leading him to his new role as a Justice on the Supreme Court.
Gorsuch is a proponent of a strict interpretation of the Constitution, like most conservatives, arguing that it should be interpreted as the founding fathers would have. His stances on polarizing issues are unclear; Gorsuch avoided answering questions on the topics of immigration and LGBTQ rights, two issues that conservatives have been historically against.
However, it is clear that Gorsuch is a strong gun rights activist with the National Rifle Association as one of his backers during the nomination process. Moreover, his firm’s support of religious freedom rights is a key component during this nomination, furthering conservatives’ confidence in Gorsuch.
Last September, Gorsuch argued that requirements for contraception coverage in Obamacare ran right over the rights of religious non-profits – this marks him as being pro-life, a major concern for liberals. Gorsuch is also the author of a book that takes a stance against assisted-suicide laws, a standpoint that conservatives also take a liking to.
While he has support from the conservative side of the political spectrum, winning over the left-leaning audience is his greatest challenge at hand. Democrats are largely opposed to Gorsuch’s nomination and have planned to filibuster his confirmation. Richard Blumenthal, Democratic Senator of Connecticut, shared his concern that “extreme ideologue on the court will threaten privacy rights, including women’s health care, worker and consumer protections and public health and safety.”
During President Trump’s campaign, he promised that he would appoint an anti-abortion rights Justice to the Supreme Court, who would goes as far as to overturn Roe v Wade, the Supreme Court case that held that the Constitution protected a woman’s right to an abortion prior to the viability of the fetus. If Gorsuch were to aim to gut such protections, it would undo much progress in women’s rights, setting them back generations that they have fought for.
Nonetheless, Gorsuch has slightly liberal stances, that may favor liberals, when he “thinks the history or the text of the Constitution or the law require it,” most notably in areas like criminal law or rights of religious minorities. Yet, he is most likely to be conservative on all polarizing issues in our society and aim to fulfill President Trump’s agenda.