Trump Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch Confirmed to the Supreme Court, Filling Yearlong Vacancy

WASHINGTON — Judge Neil M. Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court on Friday, filling the seat on the court left vacant for more than a year after the death of former Justice Antonin Scalia last year.The confirmation of Gorsuch, 49, represented the successful culmination of an ambitious, 14-month strategy by Republican leaders to ensure that Scalia’s seat was filled by a Republican president.Within hours of Scalia’s death in March 2016, GOP leaders — including Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — made it clear that they did not believe former President Barack Obama should be allowed to fill the seat in the last year of his presidency.“The Senate needs to stand strong and say we’re not going to give up the U.S. Supreme Court for a generation by allowing Barack Obama to make one more liberal appointee,” Cruz argued at the time.Cruz, fellow Texas Sen. John Cornyn, and other GOP leaders cited what they called “the Biden Rule” — a suggestion former Vice President Joe Biden had made in 1992, while he was still a senator, that President George H.W. Bush would not be allowed to fill a Supreme Court vacancy during the last year of his own presidency.At the time, Biden was speaking purely hypothetically — no such vacancy occurred.Despite furious criticism from Democrats, Cornyn, Cruz and other members of the Senate Judiciary committee held strong, and never held a vote on Obama’s nominee, Chief Judge Merrick Garland of the D.C. Circuit. On Friday, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called that strategy “the most consequential decision I’ve ever been involved with.”Garland’s failed nomination remains a sore spot for Senate Democrats, and for progressive activist groups who insist that the seat was stolen.But the Republicans’ strategy paid off on Nov. 8, 2016, when President Donald Trump won the election. Trump announced Gorsuch as his nominee in January.Gorsuch, who adheres to an originalist philosophy as a judge, was confirmed to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, by unanimous voice vote. After graduating law school and earning an additional doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University, he clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.After his clerkships, Gorsuch spent ten years at Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, a Washington law firm. He worked in the Justice Department briefly during President George W. Bush's second term before his nomination to the federal bench.When Trump announced Gorsuch as the nominee, Gorsuch said he was "honored and humbled" for the opportunity to serve on the highest court in the land."Supreme Court's work is vital not just to a region of the country, but to the whole, vital to the protection of the people's liberties under law and to the continuity of our Constitution," he said. "You've entrusted me with a most solemn assignment."  Continue reading...

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