Gorsuch likened to justice he was picked to replace

Neil Gorsuch (left), federal judge serving on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, delivers remarks after US President Donald Trump announced him as his nominee for the Supreme Court.
Neil Gorsuch (left), federal judge serving on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, delivers remarks after US President Donald Trump announced him as his nominee for the Supreme Court.PHOTO: EPA

WASHINGTON • Federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, the US Supreme Court pick of President Donald Trump, is a conservative intellectual known for backing religious rights, who is seen as very much in the mould of Mr Antonin Scalia, the justice he was chosen to replace.

Mr Gorsuch, who has not shied away from needling liberals on occasion, is 49, and could influence the high court for decades to come in the lifetime post if confirmed by the Republican-led Senate. He is the youngest Supreme Court nominee since Republican president George H.W. Bush in 1991 picked Mr Clarence Thomas, who was 43 at the time.

He currently serves as a judge on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, the city where he was born. He was appointed to that post in 2006 by Republican president George W. Bush.

Mr Gorsuch, who is white, adds little diversity to the court compared with the justices appointed by Democratic president Barack Obama, both of whom were women, one becoming the first Latina justice.

But he offers geographical diversity to a court dominated by justices from the east and west coasts. As an Episcopalian, he would be the only Protestant on the court, which has three Jewish justices and five Catholics.

Mr Gorsuch is seen by analysts as a jurist similar to Mr Scalia, who died on Feb 13 last year. Mr Scalia, praised by Mr Gorsuch as "a lion of the law", was known not only for his hardline conservatism but also for interpreting the US Constitution based on what he considered its original meaning, and laws as written by legislators.

APPLY, NOT ALTER

It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives.

SUPREME COURT NOMINEE NEIL GORSUCH

"It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives," Mr Gorsuch said on Tuesday at the White House event announcing the nomination, in remarks that echoed Mr Scalia's views.

The federal government is familiar territory for Mr Gorsuch, who is the son of Ms Anne Burford, the first woman to head the US Environmental Protection Agency.

The high court is also familiar ground for Mr Gorsuch, who served as a clerk for two justices, including a current member of the court, Mr Anthony Kennedy, a conservative who often casts the deciding vote in close decisions. If confirmed, he would become the first clerk to join a former boss on the Supreme Court. Mr Gorsuch also served as a clerk for Justice Byron White, a John F. Kennedy appointee, who retired from the court in 1993.

Mr Gorsuch has strong Ivy League academic qualifications, attending Columbia University and Harvard Law School, graduating in the same year as Mr Obama. He completed a doctorate in legal philosophy at Oxford University, spent several years in private practice and worked in the younger Mr Bush's Justice Department.

Mr Gorsuch is married with two teenage daughters and lives outside of Boulder, Colorado.

Friends and former clerks said he is a lover of the outdoors, describing him as an excellent skier, a fly fisherman and a runner.

"We used to joke that he should be the face of Colorado tourism," former Gorsuch clerk Jane Nitze said.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Gorsuch likened to justice he was picked to replace'. Print Edition | Subscribe