President Trump has announced federal Judge Neil Gorsuch as his choice for the Supreme Court, in his highest-profile nomination to date – and one sure to touch off a fierce Senate debate in the weeks ahead.
Gorsuch, 49, serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver.
Trump’s choice, if confirmed, would take the seat that has remained vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died nearly a year ago. The nominee was among Trump’s original list of 21 potential choices circulated during the presidential campaign.
But Democrats are still smarting over Republicans’ refusal to consider then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, and some have vowed to retaliate by opposing Trump’s pick. Some are even talking about moving to filibuster – meaning they would require Trump’s nominee to garner 60 votes in the 100-member Senate.
In that case, Trump would need to find at least eight Democrats to join Republicans in supporting his pick.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer has not at this stage committed to going that route, but he and his Democratic colleagues have been increasingly at odds with the Trump administration in the wake of Friday’s executive order on refugee and immigration policies.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., called earlier Tuesday for the nominee to be treated fairly.
“What I would expect from our Democratic friends is the nominee be handled similarly to President Clinton’s two nominees in his first term and President Obama’s two nominees in his first term,” McConnell said.
But Oregon Democratic Sen. Jeff Merkley has signaled he’s ready to fight, telling supporters the seat was stolen from Obama since his pick never got a vote, and saying he won’t be “complicit in this theft.”