Judge Neil M. Gorsuch – What Do We Know About Trump’s SCOTUS Nominee?

Judge Neil M. Gorsuch – What do we know about Trump's newest name thrown into the political spotlight?  What ever we think we know, we are sure there will be much more in the days to come. 


Judge Gorsuch, 49, is also “interesting because he looks most like the current justices, putting ideology aside,” Lee Epstein of Washington University, one of the report’s authors, said, noting his degrees from Ivy League universities and a clerkship at the Supreme Court. “He’s a nominee it’s going to be hard not to confirm.”

The authors predict Judge Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, would be a reliable conservative, “voting to limit gay rights, uphold restrictions on abortion and invalidate affirmative action programs.”

Should he be confirmed, the court will return to a familiar dynamic, with Justice Anthony M. Kennedy holding the decisive vote in many closely divided cases.

“He’s probably one of the least likely to drift once he got on the court,” Ms. Epstein said of Judge Gorsuch. – nytimes.com


So does that sound so bad?  Return to back in the days of Scalia.  It'll be just like he never left.  Crap.  This is especially upsetting since we may have 1, 2, or 3 more seats vacated during a Trump term.

Drew Anderson, Director of News & Rapid Response at GLAAD.org had this to say in his post tonight about Gorsuch:

If confirmed, this nominee would place the safety, progress, and overall well-being of the LGBTQ community in jeopardy. Federal workplace protections, access to healthcare, and even marriage equality could be at risk if Gorsuch were to be confirmed as the next Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

“Neil Gorsuch’s harmful history of discrimination against the LGBTQ community renders him completely unfit to sit on the highest court in the land,” said Sarah Kate Ellis, GLAAD President & CEO. “He has record of advocating for anti-LGBTQ rhetoric or supporting candidates that are in favor of open discrimination against people and families who simply want to be treated the same as everyone else. Gorsuch’s presence on the Supreme Court will affect the law of the land for generations to come – long after Trump is out of office, and will turn back the clock on equality and acceptance.”


BACKGROUND INFORMATION: What a Justice Neil Gorsuch Would Mean for LGBTQ Americans

  • Has argued that certain minority civil rights issues, like marriage equality, should be settled through elections or legislatures, not the courts.
  • In lower court decisions in the famous Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases, Gorsuch signaled willingness to allow religious employers to use their personal beliefs to sidestep federal law.
  • SCOTUSBlog describes him as “an ardent defender of religious liberties and pluralistic accommodations for religious adherents” and “a natural successor to Scalia in adopting a pro-religion conception of the establishment clause.”
  • As Columbia student in mid ’80s, defended keeping military recruiters on campus despite the military’s discriminatory stance on LGBTQ soldiers. – GLAAD.org


Did we think we were going to like anyone Trump put forward?  This is the beginning of the digging being done on Gorsuch and his past.

But how does a named individual become confirmed?  From NPR.org we see there are 5 steps into being appointed to the SCOTUS.


Five Basic Steps To Get A Supreme Court Justice Confirmed

1. Referral to the Judiciary Committee

After Trump names his choice, the nomination is referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee. The committee has 20 members. There are 11 Republicans and nine Democrats. Because it takes a bare majority of committee members to approve a Supreme Court nominee for a full Senate vote, Democrats lack the votes to block Trump's nominee at the committee level.

2. Prehearing research


Before the confirmation hearing, both Republican and Democratic committee members will conduct research into the nominee's background. The nominee must fill out an extensive questionnaire, which is crafted by the top Republican and Democrat on the Judiciary Committee — Grassley and ranking member Dianne Feinstein of California. Senators will pore over the nominee's past speeches, public statements, press clippings, writings and, if the nominee is a judge, judicial opinions.

Also during this time, the nominee starts making the rounds on Capitol Hill to pay courtesy visits to senators.


3. Confirmation hearing

This hearing can take several days — with at least a couple of days for the Judiciary Committee members to directly question the nominee, and additional days to question outside witnesses. After the proceedings, senators may submit further questions in writing for the nominee to respond to.

4. Committee vote

The committee votes on whether to approve the nominee and then "reports" its "recommendation" to the full Senate.

5. Full Senate vote

The full Senate vote is where things could get dicey for Republicans. Democrats can force Republicans to gather 60 votes in the Senate before the nominee is confirmed. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate. That means Democrats can effectively block — or "filibuster" — the confirmation if fewer than eight Democrats support Trump's pick for the high court. – NPR.org


Yes, this all could be uprooted if the Democrats desire to filibuster. Unless the Republicans change the rule book, altering how many senators are needed for appointment, this may occur.


Could Republicans go "nuclear"?

President Trump said last week that he thinks Senate Republicans should strip from Democrats the power to block Supreme Court nominees. But McConnell isn't embracing the advice at the moment.

In fact, McConnell has been asked many times about whether he will change the filibuster rules this year — invoking the so-called "nuclear option" — so that it would take only a bare majority of senators to confirm a Supreme Court nominee, rather than the required 60. – NPR.org


Let's keep our eyes peeled and see what plusses and minuses are found on Gorsuch and his record.  Are the skeletons in his closet all accounted for?  We'll have to wait and see. 


Ideology of Current and Potential Supreme Court Justices



h/t:  nytimes.com, NPR.org, GLAAD.org

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