Just this week, President Trump nominated his choice for Supreme Court Justice, Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge in Colorado, to replace Antonin Scalia’s empty seat from his untimely death in February of 2016. Already, Democrats, including Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, have been debating the idea of the second ever partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee, the first one occurring in 2005. The filibuster will require 60 votes in the Senate for any Supreme Court nominee to be appointed.
Gorsuch will reinstate another conservative seat in the Supreme Court, and many believe that with his appointment, he could lead the country into a new conservative era, with a 5-4 split between the two sides. The swing vote for the most part will remain in the hands of Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who could be described as a moderate that has voted in favor of both Republican and Democratic principles. Trump describes Gorsuch as “a man who our country really needs, and needs badly, to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice.” At only 49 years old, he will be the youngest nominee in 25 years, and therefore could sustain a conservative presence in the court for several decades.
An alumni of Harvard Law School, Gorsuch was in the same class as Former President Barack Obama. He also was a Supreme Court law clerk to Justice Kennedy, who is 80 years old, and is someone who may decide to retire knowing that a trusted associate is still in the Supreme Court. This is likely a calculated move by Trump and his cabinet to attain more open seats during his presidency and appoint justices that would identify with their policies.
Gorsuch’s political leaning is undeniably conservative, but also not extreme. One of his most controversial cases included that of Hobby Lobby, a craft store, who used religious objections to refuse to provide forms of contraceptives to their female employees. As a strong supporter of religious liberties, he voted in favor of Hobby Lobby. Additionally, in an interview with reason.com, Georgetown Law’s Randy Barnett gives the news site his opinion on Gorsuch’s appointment, believing it could have serious implications regarding abortion rights in the future, including the reopening of Roe vs. Wade, which was a key case in legalizing abortion in the United States. Regarding the issue, Barnett weighs in, saying, “Could [a decision] happen? I think it could…in the sense that it’s been contested since it was decided. As a result I can seem them undoing it and sending [the issue of abortion] back to the states.”
After the Republican Senate’s obstruction of Former President Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick B. Garland last year, major discontent has been widespread among the embittered Democratic Party. It is likely that Trump will come across major roadblocks getting his appointment through, especially with a filibuster in the picture. However, Neil Gorsuch is a very respected figure in the United States Court of Appeals, and is seen as an appropriate appointment by Trump.
“I hope members of the Senate will again show him fair consideration and respect the result of the recent election with an up-or-down vote on his nomination, just like the Senate treated the four first-term nominees of Presidents Clinton and Obama,” said Senator Mitch McConnell, Republican of Kentucky and the majority leader, to the New York Times. Clearly, the divide in Washington has been causing conflict among the two parties, but hopefuls believe that peace can be restored and President Trump’s appointment will be taken in fair judgement.