President Donald Trump said Tuesday night that he will nominate Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals court judge in Denver, to succeed Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.
Gorsuch, who currently serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, was appointed in 2006 by George W. Bush and confirmed by the Senate on a voice vote. Trump made the announcement in a prime-time event from the East Room of the White House, after a day of speculation. The president called the power to nominate Supreme Court justices the most important one behind national defense. “Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue to them when they voted for me for president,” Trump said. He said Gorsuch possesses “outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline.”
A widely respected judge, he had the backing of two conservative legal groups that advised former President Barack Obama and included his name on a list of potential nominees. The nomination is sure to be hotly contested. Democrats are still seething over the way Senate Republicans treated President Obama’s nominee to succeed Scalia, federal judge Merrick Garland, who wasn’t even given a hearing last year. Scalia died February 13, and there has been a vacancy on the nine-member court ever since. Republicans argued that the next president, not Obama, should get to choose the next justice. Gorsuch, 49, is a fourth generation Coloradan, born in Denver. His mother, Anne, was appointed by Ronald Reagan as the first woman to head the Environmental Protection Agency, which brought the family to Washington.