What to know about Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, Trump's first Supreme Court nominee
- Gorsuch was previously a judge on the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit.
- The Republican-nominated justice sided with liberals to uphold LGBTQ worker protections in 2020.
- Gorsuch replaced the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the high court.
Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch’s nomination by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court was forged in the heat of controversy around the successful effort by Senate Republicans to foil the nomination of Merrick Garland in 2016. Still, Gorsuch managed to largely avoid the bitter fights that followed Trump's other nominations and ultimately won three Democratic votes.
Gorsuch, Trump's first nominee, is in his fifth year on the nation's highest court. He will have a hand in settling some of the country’s most pressing questions. How will he view Roe v. Wade, the 1973 decision that established the constitutional right to abortion, or affirmative action in college admissions? Trump nominated him in hopes he would roll back access to abortion, but no justice's vote is ever etched in stone and Gorsuch has surprised observers before.
Here’s everything you need to know about Gorsuch.
Who is Neil Gorsuch?
Gorsuch is an associate justice on the Supreme Court of the United States. He was previously a judge on the Denver-based U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. He served in the Justice Department under President George W. Bush.
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How old is Neil Gorsuch?
Gorsuch was born in Denver, Colorado on Aug. 29, 1967. He is 54 years old as of April 2022 and is the second-youngest justice after Associate Justice Amy Coney Barrett.
Who is Neil Gorsuch’s mother?
Gorsuch’s mother is the late Anne Gorsuch, an attorney and conservative politician who served as the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency from 1981 to 1983 under President Ronald Reagan. She was the first woman to hold that position. Prior to her stint as EPA chief, she served in the Colorado House of Representatives, forming part of a staunchly conservative group of state legislators known as the "House Crazies." It was a label the group embraced to underscore how they rejected the policies of centrist Republicans.
Which president appointed Neil Gorsuch?
Trump nominated Gorsuch in January 2017, the Republican president's first pick for the high court.
How long has Neil Gorsuch been a justice?
Gorsuch took his seat on the court in April 2017. 2022 will mark five years on the court.
Who did Neil Gorsuch replace?
Gorsuch filled a vacancy left by Associate Justice Antonin Scalia, who died in 2016. Scalia was among the most spirited members of the court’s conservative wing, but his death during President Barack Obama’s tenure meant he would be replaced by a more liberal justice. Obama tried to appoint Garland to fill the seat, but a Republican-controlled Senate declined to undertake the confirmation process until after the November presidential election. Trump won the election and Obama’s nominee was sidelined. The Republican-controlled Senate waited to vote instead for the Trump nominee, Gorsuch. Garland later became President Joe Biden's attorney general.
What is Neil Gorsuch’s party affiliation?
Gorsuch has insisted that there is “no such thing as a Republican or Democratic judge.”
But he is a conservative, nominated and confirmed by a Republican president and Senate. An investigation by judicial watchdog group Fix The Court into the party registration of the Supreme Court justices found that Gorsuch was at one point a registered Republican voter.
Is Neil Gorsuch an originalist?
Gorsuch believes that originalism, a doctrine popular in legal conservatism that holds the Constitution should be interpreted as originally intended by the framers, is the best approach.
"Originalism is a theory focused on process, not on substance. It is not 'Conservative’ with a big C focused on politics," Gorsuch wrote in his 2019 book. "It is conservative in the small c sense that it seeks to conserve the meaning of the Constitution as it was written."
Where did Neil Gorsuch go to school?
Gorsuch got an undergraduate degree in political science from Columbia University in 1988, before earning a law degree at Harvard Law School in 1991.
How does Neil Gorsuch typically vote on the court?
As expected for a conservative justice, Gorsuch has largely sided with his conservative colleagues. In the 2020 term, he agreed with Chief Justice John Roberts about 68% of the time and with Associate Justice Clarence Thomas about 80% of the time, according to the Harvard Law Review.
Gorsuch, the only justice who declined to wear a face mask when the justices returned to the courtroom during the COVID-19 pandemic, occasionally embraces a more libertarian viewpoint that can sometimes put him on the same page as his liberal colleagues. Both Gorsuch and Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor disagreed with the court's decision in 2021 to decline a case seeking to make public opinions from the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.
Did Neil Gorsuch vote in favor of LGBTQ rights?
Yes, he sometimes sides with liberal justices, drawing ire from Republicans. In 2020, he wrote a landmark decision in a case that upheld protection from discrimination for LGBTQ workers. He sided with the four liberal justices at the time, and Roberts.
Does Neil Gorsuch have a family?
Is Neil Gorsuch Catholic?
Gorsuch was raised Catholic, but is now an Episcopalian. He worshipped// with his family at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Colorado, according to CNN.
Contributing: John Fritze
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