Who is President Trump's Nominee to the U.S. Supreme Court?

­BREAKING NEWS:  Trump Nominates Gorsuch to Fill Scalia’s Seat on High Court

The Nomination Has Been Made. Who’s Judge Gorsuch?

U.S. President Donald J. Trump today nominated Neil McGill Gorsuch to fill the seat of U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away on Feb. 13, 2016, while on retreat in Shafter, Texas.

READ: Focus on the Family President Jim Daly’s Statement on Judge Neil Gorsuch's Nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court

PERSONAL FACTS

  • Born Aug. 29, 1967, in Denver, CO
  • Residence: Boulder, CO
  • Married to Louise Gorsuch; they have two daughters
  • Alma Mater: Columbia University, Harvard University and University College-Oxford

PROFESSIONAL BIO

Judge Neil McGill Gorsuch, born on Aug. 29, 1967, in Denver Colorado, currently serves as a U.S. Circuit Court Judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. Nominated by former President George W. Bush, Gorsuch was confirmed by the U.S. Senate by voice vote on July 20, 2006. The Tenth Circuit hears appeals from the following states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. 

  • 1991―1992: Clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit;
  • 1993―1994: Clerked  for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy;
  • 1995―2005: Gorsuch Worked in private practice with the law firm of Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel;
  • 2005―2006: Served as Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice;
  • May 10, 2006: Nominated by President George W. Bush to replace Judge David M. Ebel, who took Senior status in 2006; and
  • July 20, 2006: Gorsuch Confirmed by voice vote by the U.S. Senate on July 20, 2006. 

LEGAL PHILOSOPHY

Since his confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in 2006, Gorsuch's decisions can give us a glimpse into his legal philosophy. (NOTE:  In line with an originalist/Constitutional judicial philosophy, he has stated he will examine cases and rule according to the law, not his personal opinions.)

  • LIFE ISSUES: Although Judge Gorsuch has not been involved in any cases directly concerning Roe v. Wade or other abortion cases, he did take a position in a 2016 Utah case concerning the issue Utah attempted to defund Planned Parenthood that favored it's legal position.

  • RELIGIOUS FREEDOM: Judge Gorsuch ruled in favor of the Little Sisters of the Poor (2015) and Hobby Lobby (2014) when those organizations were fighting the contraceptive mandate of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, requiring religious employers to provide possible abortion-causing drugs in employee health plans. The U.S. Supreme Court ultimately agreed with Judge Gorsuch when it ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby in 2014. Gorsuch has also written court opinions strongly supporting government displays of religious monuments (e.g. the Ten Commandments).

Read why understanding a nominee’s Judicial Philosophy matters ― today and in the long-term.

WHY IS HIS NOMINATION IMPORTANT?

The appointment of a constitutionalist justice to fill the vacancy left by Justice Scalia’s passing is critically important for two reasons:

  1. It maintains the ideological balance on the Court, which was present with Justice Scalia on the bench. During the nearly 30 years of Scalia tenure, there were several social-issue related cases that were decided on in line with a pro-Constitutional view (e.g., See Hobby Lobby)―albeit by a close 5-4 margin in several instances; and
  2. There are important cases at the Supreme Court right now, which will benefit from the presence of a full complement of all nine justices.

WHAT IS THE NOMINATION PROCESS?

From the moment the president officially announces his nominee, it usually takes around 2-3 months for the entire process to run its course.

There are ways concerned citizens ― like you! ― can help facilitate the confirmation process so Judge Gorsuch can “have his day in court,” so to speak, and be voted on by the entire U.S. Senate. 

Be sure to read our updated primer, “6 Common Questions About Judicial Nominations.”

Download the PDF

NEW! Read Judge Gorsuch’s written response to the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Questionnaire.

Download SJC Answers

WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT GORSUCH

  • ED WHELAN, PRESIDENT OF THE ETHICS AND PUBLIC POLICY CENTER: Whelan, a former law clerk to Justice Scalia, says, “Gorsuch’s judicial outlook is reflected in his beautiful speech celebrating — and embracing — Justice Scalia’s traditional understanding of the judicial role and his originalist methodology. (text and video).

  • THE DENVER POST: “…(W)e are encouraged by one of the names on his list to replace former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Neil Gorsuch is a federal judge in Denver with Western roots and a reputation for being a brilliant legal mind and talented writer. Those who have followed Gorsuch’s career say that from his bench in the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals he has applied the law fairly and consistently, even issuing provocative challenges to the Supreme Court to consider his rulings.” (Editorial, “Trump Would Do Well To Consider Neil Gorsuch For Supreme Court,” The Denver Post, 1/26/2017)

  • FORMER SEN. KEN SALAZAR (D-CO): "Praised Gorsuch for his sense of ‘fairness and impartiality,’ the ‘keystone of being a judge.’ “The 10th Circuit covers 560,625 square miles, nearly 20 percent of the U.S. land mass, and raises some of the most important legal issues of the time,' said U.S. Sen. Ken Salazar. ‘Deciding cases involving life and death, the reach of government power, the scope of our freedoms and liberties is the daily task of a federal judge. It is a task that requires intellect, compassion, and a dedication to fairness and impartiality,’ he said. ‘He has a sense of fairness and impartiality that is a keystone of being a judge.’” (“10th Circuit Judge’s Oath A Family Affair,” The Denver Post, 11/21/06)

  • SEN. JAMES LANKFORD (R-OK): “I was tracking a lot of the individuals that were moving through the process that the President had narrowed down the list. Neil Gorsuch was my selection that I thought, ‘That would be one of the best candidates.’ Not only because he has represented Oklahoma already on the 10th Circuit Court, just because of his judicial opinions. … He is a solid individual that has been very adamant and very outspoken about issues like privacy rights for all Americans, religious liberties, and the ability to speak out on issues that are important.” (video statement)

  • JUDGE JOHN KANE, SENIOR DISTRICT COURT JUDGE OF COLORADO: “I read a great many appellate opinions and I think Judge Gorsuch writes better than any other. His opinions, concurrences and dissents are clear, cogent and mercifully to the point. I have been affirmed and reversed by him and in each instance I thought he was right and fair. Unlike some appellate opinions, his do not set up straw men and knock them down. In other words, he states each position as forcefully and intelligently as possible and then rules on the basis of analysis. He doesn’t take cheap shots and he doesn’t engage in in personam drivel. Long ago I gave up trying to find any meaning in the words “liberal” and “conservative.” They seem to mean whatever the user wants them to mean. I won’t engage in that silly exercise with respect to any judge. I do know Judge Gorsuch’s writings indicate a strong respect for tradition and precedent and I don’t find his decisions reflecting any sort of ideological bias.” (Mimesis Law)

WHO ARE THE OTHER JUSTICES ON THE COURT?

Currently, there are eight members on the High Court: Seven (7) U.S. Associates Justices and one (1) U.S. Chief Justice.

Take an in-depth look at: Who Are Our Supreme Court Justices?

Download the PDF

STAY INFORMED

  1. SUBSCRIBE to our weekly Thriving Values™ eNewsletter, which will alert you to changes in the culture, the courts and possibly in your community.
  2. SUBSCRIBE to our award-winning Focus on the Family Citizen magazine (10 issues/year)

ACTIONS TO TAKE

1. ASK Your Two (2) U.S. Senators to Support Judge Gorsuch’s Nomination.  

Go to our Action Center to learn.

2. Share your support of Judge Gorsuch by downloading this free meme and posting it on your Facebook®, Twitter® and Instagram® accounts.

Download and save the image to your computer. Then, upload the image to your social media account for sharing.

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CONTACT US

Do you have questions about the nominee, the process or the issues? We want to hear from you! 
Please contact us at ThrivingValues@Family.org or on our Thriving Values Facebook forum.