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Wednesday, 1 February 2017

US President Donald Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court to fill the vacancy created by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia




Trump nominates 'brilliant' Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court - making him the youngest candidate in 25 years and firing the starting gun on a bitter battle with the Democrats


  • President Donald Trump announced his selection of Gorsuch, 49, to fill the vacancy created by the death last year of Justice Antonin Scalia

  • Gorsuch is an Appeals Court judge on the 10th Circuit in Denver
  • Trump hailed his qualifications as 'beyond dispute' 

  • The president announced the decision after a reality TV-style announcement, where two final candidates were under consideration

  • Losing out was Judge Thomas Hardiman of Pittsburgh, who also was summoned to Washington

  • Democratic leader Sen. Charles Schumer vowed to oppose a pick 'tooth and nail' that wasn't part of the 'mainstream'

  • President Obama's pick to replace Scalia, Judge Merrick Garland, never got a hearing or a vote from Republicans who control the Senate 

If confirmed by the bitterly-divided Senate, Gorsuch will fill the vacancy created by the February 2016 death of Antonin Scalia. 
Trump said Gorsuch's qualifications are 'beyond dispute' as he introduced him to the nation from the White House's East Room on Tuesday night in a primetime event.
The president said Gorsuch was 'among the finest and the most brilliant' judges. And he called Gorsuch's academic credentials – Columbia University, Harvard Law, and Oxford University – 'as good as I have ever seen.'
'When he was nominated to the 10th Circuit court of appeals, he was confirmed by the Senate unanimously,' Trump said. 'Unanimously. Can you believe that nowadays with what’s going on? Does that happen anymore? Does it happen? I think it’s going to happen, maybe again.'

President Donald Trump announced his appointment tonight of Neil Gorsuch, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit judge, to the Supreme Court
President Donald Trump announced his appointment tonight of Neil Gorsuch, a U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit judge, to the Supreme Court

Trump announces Judge Neil Gorsuch as nominee to Supreme Court

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Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said anyone Trump appoints must be 'mainstream'
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., has said anyone Trump appoints must be 'mainstream'
Such a vote would be unthinkable in the current environment, with Democrats already digging in against Trump's agenda as the new president inks a series of executive orders.  
Republicans many not even be able to rally the eight Democrats they need to cross party lines in order to prevent the filibuster some lawmakers have already vowed.
The GOP held up President Barack Obama's court pick for months. Senate Democratic leaders indicated Tuesday evening that they would make the nomination process for Gorsuch as difficult as possible.
'The Senate must insist upon 60 votes for any Supreme Court nominee, a bar that was met by each of President Obama's nominees,' said Senate Democratic Leader Charles Schumer of New York, essentially promising a filibuster.
If Democrats insist on obstructing Gorsuch, Senate Leader Mitch McConnell could go 'nuclear' and reduce the number of votes needed to confirm justices to a simple majority - 51. But some of his Republican colleagues are against the move, preferring to preserve minority rights. 
McConnell would be abandoning longstanding Senate rules to ram through the Republican president's agenda - a tactic he chided Democrats for when Obama held the Oval Office.
Republicans in the Senate repeatedly said Tuesday evening at the White House that they didn't think McConnell would ultimately have to entertain that option.
'They're going to have a hard time explaining to the American people why they would obstruct one of the most talented legal minds (in the country),' Cory Gardner, a senator from Gorsuch's home state of Colorado  
Schumer and 10 other Democrats who are still in the Senate voted in favor of Gorsuch when George W. Bush nominated him to the 10th Circuit in 2006. The Republican-appointed judge was unanimously approved by voice vote.
'I hope that bodes well for the process,' South Dakota Republican John Thune said Tuesday evening. 'I hope that he'll get a fair consideration in an up and down vote again.'
But Schumer on Tuesday argued that Gorsuch 'has repeatedly sided with corporations over working people, demonstrated a hostility toward women's rights, and most troubling, hewed to an ideological approach to jurisprudence that makes me skeptical that he can be a strong, independent justice on the Court.' 
The Senate minority leader had previously committed his caucus to fighting Trump's nominee 'tooth and nail' if the judge fell outside of the 'mainstream.' 
Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal told CNN immediately after tonight's announcement that he could oppose Gorsuch on those grounds.
'I have very deep, serious concerns about judge Gorsuch because I do believe that he may be coming to the Court with an agenda that’s out of the mainstream,' the Democrat said. 
'And as much as I want to insulate the court from partisan politics, if I conclude that he is out of the mainstream … I will use every tool at my disposal to block his nomination.' 


Neil Gorsuch poses with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he'll be taking on the court, if he's confirmed by the Senate
Neil Gorsuch poses with the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, whose seat he'll be taking on the court, if he's confirmed by the Senate
Underlining his filibuster threat, Blumenthal said: 'All of President Obama's nominees required 60 votes. So should President Trump's.' He called what happened to Obama's nominee, Merrick Garland, a 'travesty' and an 'outrage.'
Oregon Democratic Senator Jeff Merkley recalled Republicans' success at blocking Garland on MSNBC Tuesday night and contended, 'This is not a normal consideration. 
'This is a seat that was stolen from the former president, Obama, that’s never been done in U.S. history before.'
He added: 'To let this become normal just invites a complete partisan polarization of the court from here to eternity,' and called Gorsuch someone from the 'extreme right.' 
Schumer, Sen. Dick Durbin, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the ranking member on the legislative body's judiciary committee skipped Trump's Tuesday roll out event, a possible sign of things to come.
'I don't want to be standing there tonight in the crowd when they pull back the curtain and say here's your nominee,' Durbin said in advance of the event, according to The Hill. 'Let's do this in an orderly fashion.' 
Thune, chairman of the Senate Republican Conference, said afterward, 'I think there's still obviously a lot of hard feelings among Democrats over the election, but my view is that this is the kind of pick that will be very, very difficult for Democrats to attack.'
Gorsuch 'has the right temperament, he understands the role of the Supreme Court and our system of government,' Thune said, and he has a 'very sharp legal mind.'
Neil Gorsuch thanks Trump for the Supreme Court nomination


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Judge Neil Gorsuch delivers brief remarks after being nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court
Judge Neil Gorsuch delivers brief remarks after being nominated by President Donald Trump to the Supreme Court
President Trump called Gorsuch 'among the finest and the most brilliant' judges'
President Trump called Gorsuch 'among the finest and the most brilliant' judges'
Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge serving on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, kisses his wife Marie Louise during his announcement by US President Donald J. Trump
Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge serving on the 10th US Circuit Court of Appeals, kisses his wife Marie Louise during his announcement by US President Donald J. Trump
President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Judge Neil Gorsuch after nominating him to the Supreme Court
President Donald Trump (R) shakes hands with Judge Neil Gorsuch after nominating him to the Supreme Court
Former New Hampshire Senator Kelly Ayotte will serve as ‘Senate Sherpa’ this week, the official escort of Gorsuch and he works to win over key lawmakers.
Trump said Tuesday, from the East Room, that he hoped Republicans and Democrats would be able 'to come together, for once, for the good of the country' to approve his nominee. 
He sent out a tweet two and a half hours later that said: 'Hope you like my nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court. He is a good and brilliant man, respected by all.'
Gorsuch was said to be Trump's favorite for the vacant seat. The 49-year-old appellate court judge was the more traditional pick and is considered an ideological match to Scalia. 
Trump called him Monday to break the news, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said. 
Gorsuch was among six finalists for the post. Trump met with three of the four judges on his short list - Gorsuch, Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor on January 14 in New York, the White House official said. 
Trump's aim is to tilt the bench to conservatives on abortion, gun control and other hot-button issues and fill the vacancy left by Scalia, a conservative stalwart. 
Currently the bench consists of four conservatives and four liberals. 
Gorsuch has also broad view on religious freedom, which conservatives have championed in recent years.
'The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute. He is the man of our country and a man who our country really needs, and needs badly, to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice,' Trump said in his Tuesday announcement. 
Texas Republican Senator Ted Cruz, the runner-up in the GOP primary, applauded Trump for picking Gorsuch Tuesday night. 
'During the campaign he promised the American people he would nominate a principled constitutionalist to replace Justice Scalia,' Cruz said. 'And tonight President Trump honored that commitment.'
'I think Judge Gorsuch is a home run,' Cruz said.
Jeff Flake, a more moderate Republican who represents Arizona in the U.S. Senate, said he was 'very impressed' with the judge. 'It was a good pick, at every level.' 
Gorsuch hasn't ruled on abortion case, which could help him as he meets this week with Senate Democrats.
He sided with Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor in opinions that are in line with the Supreme Court's conservative justices, however, in religious freedom cases.
The phrasing that he used in a ruling on behalf of those who challenged Obamacare's birth control mandate suggest he's pro-life, as he said businesses would be forced to 'underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg.'  
In another case, Gorsuch joined a group of 10th Circuit judges who believed The Little Sisters of the Poor, who made similar complaints about the ACA's contraception provision, should have a case heard in front of the appellate court.
The Supreme Court at least partially agreed with Gorsuch by sending the case back to the lower courts, but with a plausible solution that would accommodate their religious beliefs and afford full and equal contraceptive coverage.  
During his remarks, Trump painted Gorsuch as the intellectual and ideological heir to Scalia, who had an outsized influence through his sharply-written opinions, and whose wife, Maureen was in the audience at the White House East Room.
'When Justice Scalia passed away suddenly last February, I made a promised to the American people, if I were elected president I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court,' Trump said.
'I promised to select someone who respects our laws and is representative of our Constitution, and who loves our Constitution – and someone who will interpret them as written.'
'This may be the most transparent judicial selection process in history,' Trump said, noting that he produced a list of conservative nominees before the election, having developed a list of 21 names after consulting the conservative Heritage Foundation and Federalist Society.
'I am a man of my word. I will do as I say. Something that the American people have been asking for from Washington for a very, very long time,' Trump said.
The president pointed out that Maureen Scalia was in the room, calling her 'a woman loved by her husband and deeply respected by all.'
'I am so happy she is with us,' Trump said. 
Kellyanne Conway, a senior advisor to the president, told reporters later that Trump personally invited Mrs. Scalia and acknowledged that she was kept abreast of the proceedings to replace her husband at the high court.
Trump said tonight that her husband, Antonin Scalia, was someone 'whose image and genius was in my mind throughout the decision making process.'
Gorsuch, in his own remarks, took a humble tone. 'Standing here in a house of history, and acutely aware of my own imperfections, I pledge that if I am confirmed I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country.'
'Practicing in the trial work trenches of the law, I saw, too, that when we judges don our robes, it doesn’t make us any smarter, but it does serve as a reminder of what’s expected of us: Impartiality and independence, collegiality and courage,' Gorsuch said.    
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren was one of the first lawmakers to say she would oppose Gorsuch on Tuesday night, even before meeting with him.
'President Trump had the chance to select a consensus nominee to the Supreme Court,' Warren said in a statement. 'To the surprise of absolutely nobody, he failed that test. Instead, he carried out his public promise to select a nominee from a list drawn up by far right activist groups that were financed by big business interests,' she said.
Nebraska GOP Senator Ben Sasse tried to head off Democratic complaints in a statement he released that vividly predicted that Schumer would say the judge is so awful he 'kicks puppies.'
 'Neil Gorsuch is a highly-regarded jurist with a record of distinguished service, rooted in respect for the law. He was confirmed unanimously by Democrats and Republicans,' Sasse said. 'Senator Schumer is about to tell Americans that Judge Gorsuch kicks puppies and heckles piano recitals. That’s hogwash.'
The White House operation to keep Gorsuch's nomination a secret was an especially impressive one given the number of leaks coming out of the new administration.
Even Republican lawmakers were left out of the loop until an hour before Trump's big reveal. 'We leak like a sieve,' Flake joked as he talked to reporters Tuesday night inside the White House.
'We were only certain tonight,' he said, laughing. 'It was narrowed down, everybody pretty much knew the few at the top,' he admitted.
Spicer told reporters during a gaggle that a team from the White House flew out to Denver, and then to Boulder, after Trump called Gorsuch on Monday. They subsequently accompanied him to Washington.
‘He arrived in Washington, D.C. last night and stayed in a private residence, and then he was escorted to the White House today,' Spicer said.
Gorsuch ‘flew out on a military (plane) ….He went to a neighbor’s house, then was met by White House counsel staff, transported to a farm, back farm road,' said Spicer, explaining the measures the White House took to keep the nomination quiet. 
The three from the shortlist who didn’t get it were informed by White House Counsel Don McGhan.
Spicer said of the hush, hush rollout that survived any leaks: ‘It was a great effort by the entire team.’  
The White House spokesman did not say what issues Trump and the judge specifically discussed before the president decided he should join the court.
In his meeting with the judge the president ‘discussed a range of topics and asked him several questions regarding his judicial philosophy, ' Spicer said.
Democratic opposition may draw McConnell, architect of the Garland blockade, to deploy the 'nuclear option' to change Senate rules so that only a simple majority would be required for confirmation.
Trump has said that would be fine with him. Spicer told reporters on Tuesday, however, ‘That’s up to Senator McConnell to decide.’ 
Utah's Orrin Hatch, president pro tempore of the Senate, said it's his hope that Democrats will back off their threats to fillibuster.
'If they dont, we're gonna roll right over them,' he declared.
The senator clarified a moment later that he wasn't referring to the nuclear option. 
'I'm saying that we're not going to put up with it,' he stated. 'This is a very top flight man, top flight lawyer, top flight judge, and everybody knows it, including the Democrats.'


Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4178498/Trump-names-Neil-Gorsuch-Supreme-Court.html#ixzz4XPM4BheX
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