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Trump nominates appeals court judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, for the Supreme Court

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WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will nominate federal judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. He is nominating Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

The nomination of Gorsuch, a 49-year-old federal appellate judge from Colorado, gives Trump and Republicans the opportunity to confirm someone who could cement the conservative direction of the court for decades.

His selection also sets up an intense fight with Senate Democrats, still angry over the Republicans’ decision to essentially ignore former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland for the empty Supreme Court seat last year.

Introducing Gorsuch, Trump said he had committed as a candidate to “find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.”

He said he was seeking “someone who would interpret them are written.”

“Millions of voters said this was he single most important issue for them when they voted for me for president,” Trump said. “I am a man of my word.”

“Today I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.”

Trump made the announcement after an unusual day in which both top candidates for the nomination — Gorsuch and Judge Thomas Hardiman — were brought to Washington as the suspense built.

The court has been operating with eight justices since the sudden death last February of Justice Antonin Scalia. If confirmed, Gorsuch would continue the ideological balance that existed before Scalia’s death, with four conservatives, four liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy as a swing vote between the blocs.

Trump selected Gorsuch — who sits on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals — from a list of 20 potential justices compiled during the presidential campaign in a direct appeal to conservative and evangelical voters skeptical about his commitment to their values.

Gorsuch pledged that, as a justice, he would be “a faithful servant of the Constitution and the laws of this country.”

The son of Anne Gorsuch Burford, the former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Reagan who was held in contempt of Congress and resigned under intense criticism, Judge Gorsuch was nominated to the federal bench in May 2006 after serving in the Bush-era Justice Department for two years.

Gorsuch’s legal record closely mirrors Scalia’s legal thinking. An admirer of the late justice, he fondly regarded him as a “lion of the law.” He has written decisions that are critical of government regulations and in favor of religious freedom, and in 2013 sided with Hobby Lobby and other businesses and organizations religiously opposed to Affordable Care Act requirements mandating that employers provide contraception in their health insurance plans. The Supreme Court upheld that decision the following year.

Gorsuch is considered by conservatives to be pro-life. In 2006, he authored a book which criticized the legal arguments for assisted suicide and euthanasia. His arguments were “based on the idea that all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong,” a view that closely mirrors the position held by the religious right. He is a graduate of Harvard Law School.

Gorsuch spent part of his youth in Washington, D.C., when his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, served in the Reagan administration as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.

He served as a partner at a prestigious Washington Law firm, Kellogg, Huber as well as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.

Gorsuch and his wife Louise have two daughters. They live in Boulder, Colorado.

Americans United of Life praised the nomination, saying “Neil Gorsuch’s nomination shows that President Trump values the legacy of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, and is dedicated to ensuring that the Supreme Court is staffed by jurists who respect the Constitution, not by politicians who vote with their policy preferences.”

The Latino Victory Project said, “Gorsuch’s track record on women’s reproductive rights and issues of discrimination and police brutality suggests he doesn’t have all of our interests in mind nor that he could be independent of advancing Trump’s agenda and saying no to him once he goes too far.  We urge Democrats to protect our values and give this potential justice the tough vetting and full consideration a position of this distinction deserves.”

NARAL Pro-Choice Washington said, “Gorsuch’s views on the right to choose are clear. He has an established track record of supporting an agenda that undermines abortion access. As a judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, he has sided with private businesses that want to deny women access to birth control, with Catholic hospitals that deny women the right to abortion and other legal reproductive health-care services, and with the governor of Utah, who issued an order defunding Planned Parenthood. There is no doubt that Gorsuch’s appointment is a direct threat to Roe v. Wade and women’s equality.”