Supreme Court Nominations

Meet Neil Gorsuch, said to be a leading SCOTUS contender

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Maybe FantasySCOTUS is right.

The website is taking reader votes on the Trump shortlister most likely to be nominated, and Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was leading on Tuesday morning, just as he led the pack earlier this month when two other shortlisters were getting media attention.

Now at least two publications—the Los Angeles Times and ABC News—are reporting that 49-year-old Gorsuch is a leading contender to fill seat left open by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

“In Gorsuch” the Los Angeles Times reports, “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.”

President Trump said on Tuesday that he will announce his choice for the U.S. Supreme Court next week, report the Wall Street Journal (sub. req.) and USA Today.

Judge William Pryor of the of the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals drew press attention following reports that Donald Trump had interviewed him on Jan. 14. But Pryor is likely to draw criticism from both the right and left, according to the Los Angeles Times.

In a comment angering liberals, Pryor once said Roe v. Wade is “the worst abomination in the history of constitutional law.” But conservatives will likely disagree with an opinion he joined, which found that Georgia officials violated the equal protection clause when they fired an employee for being a transgender woman.

Gorsuch, a Harvard law school graduate, formerly clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony M. Kennedy. He also has a Ph.D. in legal philosophy from Oxford University.

A SCOTUSblog profile of Gorsuch calls the judge “a natural fit for an appointment to the Supreme Court by a Republican president.” The blog sees many parallels between Gorsuch and Scalia.

According to the blog, Gorsuch “is an ardent textualist (like Scalia); he believes criminal laws should be clear and interpreted in favor of defendants even if that hurts government prosecutions (like Scalia); he is skeptical of efforts to purge religious expression from public spaces (like Scalia); he is highly dubious of legislative history (like Scalia); and he is less than enamored of the dormant commerce clause (like Scalia). In fact, some of the parallels can be downright eerie.”

In two high-profile cases, Gorsuch supported a privately held company and nuns who raised religious objections to providing insurance coverage for contraceptives. His positions were at least partly vindicated when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled for the company and remanded the other case because of a potential compromise.

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