By Dhara Patel, National News Editor
On January 31, 2017, President Trump announced his Supreme Court justice nominee. The battle was between two top picks: Neil Gorsuch from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and Thomas Hardiman from the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in Pittsburgh. The nominee would take the vacant seat once sat by Antonin Scalia who passed away last February; he served as a Justice for 30 years.
The new nominee will not only shape the present but also the future given that he will be on the bench for around 30 years. Neil Gorsuch won the nomination, a man who will decide the law for decades to come.
Neil Gorsuch is said to be the exact replica of late Scalia, at least ideologically (both supported Originalism). In 2006, President George W. Bush appointed Gorsuch to the Tenth Circuit. As Gorsuch has the same political beliefs as Scalia, the shift will be in favor of the conservatives in Congress and the Court.
According to The Atlantic, had the nominee been picked by Obama or Clinton, it would allow the Court to have five justices who are liberal; the first liberal majority since the Warren Court in the 1960s. Mitch McConnell, a Republican and Senate Majority vowed to keep Scalia’s seat open until the presidential election. This was to prevent a liberal from taking Scalia’s seat and creating the ideological shift.
Gorsuch has publically spoken against abortion and gay marriage. He has a doctoral degree from Oxford where he studied euthanasia, and also graduated from Harvard Law School. In his book, he wrote, “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of a human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Tensions over the nomination between Democrats and Republicans, in part because of the obstruction of Merrick Garland’s nomination last year. In attempt to rebuff Trump’s nomination, the Democrats will be using their filibustering power led by Minority Leader, Chuck Schumer.
60 votes are needed in order for Gorsuch to be approved by the Senate. However, Washington Post claims that filibustering may not be a lucrative action for the Democrats. Mitch McConnell has the power to change Senate rules; he can forbid filibustering Supreme Court nominees. This would mean that the nominee will be confirmed on a party-line vote. A party-line vote is when the members of the majority party vote the same way in opposition of the minority party. Elimination of filibustering Supreme Court nominees would result in some Democrats losing their seats during the 2018 midterm elections.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, February 7th print edition.
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