Trump Names Neil Gorsuch Supreme Court Justice in Prime-Time Ceremony

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Trump named his Supreme Court Justice.

During a dramatic nighttime ceremony live on television and Facebook, President Donald Trump announced Neil McGill Gorsuch, United States Circuit Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver as his Supreme Court nominee, finally filling the ninth seat—a vacancy that has been under scrutiny since Justice Antonin Scalia’s death last February.

In accepting the nomination, Gorsuch, introduced by Trump, pledged to fill the post with "impartiality, independence, collegiality, and courage."

Before introducing Gorsuch, Trump said appointing a judge with beliefs similar to Scalia's was a campaign promise that helped get him elected.

"I made a promise to find the very best judge for the Supreme Court who respects our laws and loves our Constitution," Trump said, adding that he believed millions of his supporters voted for him solely for that reason. "I'm a man of my word and I do as I say," he added.

Hope you like my nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court. He is a good and brilliant man, respected by all.

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 1, 2017

He added that Gorsuch, 49, has an impressive resume--a Colorado native with an undergraduate degree from Columbia University, a law degree from Harvard, and that he was also a scholar at Oxford University.

Gorsuch thanked Trump for the honor and said he is "looking forward to working with Congress" as the confirmation process goes forward. He also spoke of his admiration for Scalia calling him "a lion of the law."

Analysts predicted the confirmation process could be contentious, despite Gorsuch's qualifications.

The Supreme Court nomination process typically causes partisan tension, but this one has been a particular nail-biter even as concern over some of Trump’s spate of executive orders was consuming some lawmakers and members of the public.

The vacancy came with controversy. Former President Barack Obama had been blocked from filling the seat for 11 months — the Senate was prevented from considering Obama’s pick, Merrick B. Garland, Chief Judge of The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.

Some officials anticipated Trump’s decision would revive the court’s Conservative majority, potentially influencing various aspects of laws and policies on health care, contraception, religious and transgender cases, and abortion rights — a legacy that would persist years after the president who made the appointment completed his term.

Cases on contraception and transgender rights might see actions taken by the Obama administration reversed under Trump.

In May, the court returned a series of cases on “access to contraception” to the lower courts hoping both sides could find middle ground. Could tonight’s choice eradicate any chance for compromise? It depends on whether the court favors the objections of major crafts store Hobby Lobby to covering birth control for employees in its health plan.

The nomination could similarly impact a transgender rights case on restroom access currently sitting on the court’s docket involving discrimination “on the basis of sex” in schools that receive federal funding. Depending on the Trump administration’s interpretation, the ninth justice could dismiss the case.

Conversely, many women’s and reproductive rights activists who had expressed their mounting concerns over the fate of abortion cases may be able to breathe — just a little. Lawmakers have explained that so long as Justice Anthony M. Kennedy continues to support the essential outline of the constitutional right to abortion established in 1973 in the contentious Roe v. Wade case, adding a new justice likely wouldn’t make a significant difference, despite his stance.

If the confirmation process goes smoothly, officials expect Gorsuch to be sworn in sometime in April.

Trump’s influence on the court will likely not end with tonight’s choice. Any one or more of three oldest members of the court — Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83, Justice Kennedy, 80, and Justice Stephen G. Breyer, 78 – could step down. In the event Trump is called to replace one of these three justices, signs would point to a five-justice Conservative majority – potentially creating Trump’s most lasting legacy.

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