While conservatives celebrate the appointment of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, Democrats in the Senate prepare to pose fierce opposition.
The Supreme Court is the highest in the US, casting judgment on sensitive issues such as abortion, gun control and civil rights.
Appointments to this court are pivotal in dictating the direction of legal precedent, hence wide discussion on this matter.
Gorsuch is set to replace the late Justice Scalia and if confirmed by the Senate, will restore the court’s 5-4 conservative majority.
Obama had nominated Judge Merrick Garland after Justice Scalia’s death last February. However, Republicans refused to debate the choice on the basis that it was too close to an election.
This divisive refusal has left Democrats bitter, and ready for a fight.
Although Democrats are the minority party with only 41 seats, they could prolong or filibuster the debate in which case the nomination would need 60 votes instead of a basic majority.
At this point, the Republicans would have to change Senate rules in order to approve the appointment.
Democrats in the Senate aren’t the only ones opposing the nomitation; following the announcement, protesters set up camp outside the Supreme Court.
Judge Gorsuch is part of a well-connected Republican family – his mother was the first female director of the Environmental Protection Agency.
Having graduated from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he was classmates with Obama, Gorsuch achieved a doctorate in legal philosophy from Oxford University.
Gorsuch feels that ‘American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom’ to effect their ‘social agenda’ rather than relying on elected leaders.
In his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Gorsuch wrote: ‘All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.’
Unsurprisingly, his stance on abortion and euthanasia is conservative and he is expected to interpret law according to its plain text.
During Obama’s presidency, Judge Gorsuch sided with groups who successfully opposed the principle that employers should provide health insurance including contraceptive solutions.
His conservative approach also extends to gun laws; he once wrote that a citizen’s right to bear arms ‘must not be infringed lightly’.
Gorsuch also criticised Obama’s use of executive orders to overcome congressional gridlock, branding it ‘executive overreach’.
It will be interesting to see if this criticism extends to Trump’s recent flurry of controversial executive orders on issues from abortion to immigration.
Judge Gorsuch’s CV makes him a traditional pick for any Republican president but under the volatile circumstances, brace yourselves for a showdown in this political hoedown.