Attorney James M. Lynch discussed the possible Supreme Court appointment of Neil M. Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.
As predicted here last month, President Obama did not elect to attempt a recess appoint Judge Merrick Garland to fill the Supreme Court vacancy caused by the death of Antonin Scalia. The task of filling the seat now falls to newly inaugurated President Donald J. Trump. President Trump indicated on January 24, 2017, that sometime in the following week he will announce his nomination to fill the Scalia vacancy. According to the Los Angeles Times, a front runner has emerged from the field of judges currently under consideration: Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, age 49, of the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado.
Prior to his appointment to the 10th Circuit, Judge Gorsuch served as a Deputy Associate Attorney General at the U.S. Department of Justice when he was appointed to the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush in 2006. Earlier in his legal career, he clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. Judge Gorsuch was included in the list of 21 judges whom then-candidate Donald Trump announced he was considering for the Scalia vacancy. According to sources close to the Trump transition team, that list had been narrowed to 8 judges, including Judge Gorsuch.
Unlike other appointments, the Los Angeles Times observes, a Gorsuch nomination may invite less of a fight in the Senate confirmation process:
In Gorsuch, supporters see a jurist who has strong academic credentials, a gift for clear writing and a devotion to deciding cases based on the original meaning of the Constitution and the text of statutes, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Just as importantly, Gorsuch is seen as someone who might be more easily confirmed in the Senate. Unlike other appointees of President George W. Bush, Gorsuch won an easy Senate confirmation on a voice vote in 2006.
The other advantage that the low-key Gorsuch brings to the table is that he does not have a record of controversial public comments that would fuel a confirmation fight.
Whomever the president nominates, he will need Senate 60 votes – including 8 Democrats – for confirmation.
About the Author: James M. Lynch is an attorney for Lynch & Owens, located in Hingham, Massachusetts.