Trump's Supreme Court pick set to ignite heated debate

In an unusual move, Mr Trump introduced Mr Gorsuch, 49, to the American public in a prime-time nationwide television broadcast on Tuesday night, touting his "outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline".
In an unusual move, Mr Trump introduced Mr Gorsuch, 49, to the American public in a prime-time nationwide television broadcast on Tuesday night, touting his "outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline".PHOTO: REUTERS

US President Donald Trump has nominated federal appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch to the US Supreme Court, but his confirmation could spark fireworks in Congress over his conservative credentials, and in the face of growing anger over a string of controversial actions by Mr Trump since he took office less than two weeks ago.

In an unusual move, Mr Trump introduced Mr Gorsuch, 49, to the American public in a prime-time nationwide television broadcast on Tuesday night, touting his "outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline".

Republicans see him as the first step in reshaping the court to gain a conservative majority on divisive issues such as abortion, gun control and religious rights. While observers said he seemed a safe choice as his views on such issues were not set in stone, Democrats raised concerns.

He has "repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility towards women's rights and, most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence", said Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer.

Democrats also remain bitter that Republicans refused to even set a hearing for former president Barack Obama's nominee for the same seat on grounds that the new President should make the appointment. The seat has been vacant since the death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia in February last year.

Adding to the growing rift is Mr Trump's executive order suspending refugee intake and temporarily banning US visas for citizens of seven Muslim-majority nations. The attorneys-general of four states are suing him over the order, calling it unconstitutional and "un-American".

Ironically, if any of those lawsuits end up in the Supreme Court, Mr Gorsuch would be one of those passing judgment - if confirmed.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2017, with the headline 'Trump's Supreme Court pick set to ignite heated debate'. Print Edition | Subscribe