(UPI) — Almost exactly one year after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia created an opening on the United States Supreme Court, President Donald Trump on Tuesday night officially nominated federal appellate judge Neil McGill Gorsuch to fill that yearlong empty post.
Trump announced his pick Tuesday evening — a disclosure the president tweeted about all day.
“Today, I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating judge Neil Gorsuch,” Trump said. “I made a promise .. I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court. I promised to pick somebody who respects our laws and is representative of our Constitution and who loves our Constitution.
Gorsuch, 49, is a judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Colorado — appointed to the federal post by former President George W. Bush in 2006.
The appellate judge, a graduate of Columbia and Harvard, began his law career as a clerk for the U.S. Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., and then for Supreme Court Justices Byron White, a fellow Colorado native, and Anthony Kennedy. He later worked in private practice for a decade.
“Standing here in a house of history and acutely aware of my own imperfections, I pledge that if I am confirmed I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant to the Constitution of laws of this great country,” Gorsuch said.
“I am so thankful tonight for my family, my friends and my faith. These are the things that keep me grounded. … I am honored and I am humbled.
“The towering judges that have served in this particular seat … are much in my mind at this moment,” Gorsuch said. “Justice Scalia was a lion of the law.”
One key issue Gorsuch has weighed heavily on is freedom of religion — having sided with Christian employers and religious organizations in past litigation, including a landmark federal appeals case involving craft store Hobby Lobby three years ago. The store refused to comply with federal health law in covering emergency contraception.
Gorsuch is also said to be an advocate of capital punishment and opposes abortion.