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Senate Confirms Neil Gorsuch to Supreme Court

by Countable | 4.7.17

The Senate voted Friday morning to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court on a 54-45 vote. Gorsuch’s confirmation comes one day after Republican senators deployed the "nuclear option" to bypass a partisan filibuster launched by Democrats looking to block his nomination. All the Republicans in attendance voted to confirm Gorsuch (although Sen. Jonny Isakson (R-GA) was absent) and three Democrats — Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV), Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND), and Joe Donnelly (D-IN) — crossed the aisle to support the nominee.

Will Gorsuch change the balance of the court?

As an originalist, Gorsuch believes that the Constitution’s meaning should be interpreted in the way that reasonable people at the time of adoption understood the meaning of the text to be, which is similar to the views of the late Justice Scalia.

During his time on the Tenth Circuit Court, Gorsuch has authored opinions that put him in the mainstream of conservative judicial thought. He believes in a broad definition of religious freedom, and in a case related to the Affordable Care Act Gorsuch held that the law’s requirement for employers to provide workers with insurance that includes contraceptive coverage violates employers’ religious rights.

Gorsuch has also expressed opposition to a three decade old precedent known as the Chevron Doctrine, in which the Supreme Court held that courts should defer to federal agencies’ interpretations of laws if Congress doesn’t explicitly address the issue in question when granting authority to regulators.

Who is Neil Gorsuch?

Gorsuch, 49, spent his teenage years in Washington, D.C. after his mother was picked to lead the Environmental Protection Agency during the Reagan administration. She was forced to resign following allegations of political favoritism in the process of cleaning up toxic-waste sites, although she was never charged with a crime.

He has an academic background that reads like that of a prototypical Supreme Court justice, having earned his undergraduate degree at Columbia University before getting his law degree from Harvard University. He later earned a doctorate in philosophy from Oxford University.

Gorsuch also has some familiarity with the operations of the Supreme Court, having clerked for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy in 1993-1994. If confirmed, he would be a colleague of one of his former bosses, as Justice Kennedy is still serving on the nation’s highest court. Gorsuch has served on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, when he was nominated by former President George W. Bush and confirmed by a voice vote in the U.S. Senate.

A native of Colorado, Gorsuch enjoys fly fishing and skiing in his spare time, and raises horses, chickens and goats. He and his wife have two daughters.

Tell your senators whether you approve of Gorsuch's confirmation and what they should do about future nominees using the "Take Action" button.

— Eric Revell

(Photo Credit: White House / Public Domain)

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