Who Is Neil Gorsuch, Trump's Latest Controversial Hire?

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President Trump announced tonight the nomination of Neil Gorsuch for the U.S. Supreme Court. If confirmed by Congress, Gorsuch will fill the seat of late Justice Antonin Scalia, who died last February.

"This may be the most transparent judicial selection process in history," Trump said, emphasising that many who voted for him did so with the issue of Supreme Court nomination in mind.

For the past 11 months, the Supreme Court has functioned with only eight justices. That has meant that there is no possibility of breaking a tie in the event of deadlock. Back in March, the Obama administration nominated Judge Merrick Garland for the vacancy, but the Republican-controlled Congress refused to give him a hearing for 10 months. He is the longest-waiting SCOTUS nominee to have been neither confirmed nor rejected.

However, many expect Gorsuch will be confirmed, though the Senate Democrats have said they will try to block the process.

Trump promised he would appoint a pro-life judge to the bench. That's a break with norms, though both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders said they would use Citizens United as an ideological test. So, does Gorsuch fit the mould? Yeah, pretty much.

A Denver-based judge for the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch was appointed by former President George W. Bush in 2006. He's long been rumoured to be President Trump's favourite for the Supreme Court job and was said to be the one contender who resembled the late Justice Antonin Scalia the most.

The nominee is one of the many conservatives who believe the birth control mandate of the Affordable Care Act violates the "religious freedom" of individuals. Gorsuch was one of the judges who heard the Hobby Lobby case in 2012. He sided with the majority opinion, which argued that companies should be able to refuse to make certain forms of contraception available for their employees if they felt offering that in their insurance coverage went against the religious beliefs of the corporations' majority shareholders.

In his case opinion, Gorsuch wrote that the ACA policy forced Hobby Lobby "to violate their religious faith by lending an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong."

He has never ruled on the topic of abortion. However, The Washington Post pointed out that in his book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia Gorsuch wrote that "all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong."

The nominee has had family connections to the GOP establishment. Before he assumed the bench as a federal judge, he also served in the Justice Department during the administration of George W. Bush.

Watch the announcement below.
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