On Monday, President Donald Trump announced he had already decided whom to nominate to the Supreme Court, and would be making the formal announcement Tuesday night at 8 p.m. But multiple news outlets have the scoop: Trump will nominate appellate judge Neil Gorsuch.
“One source said that Gorsuch was told it was likely him,” CNN reported Tuesday afternoon. But there was an important caveat: “Those close to the process warn that until it is announced, Trump could change his mind.” Citing unnamed sources is rather questionable, so take the report with a grain of salt, but Trump said very clearly that he had already made up his mind on the matter.
I have made my decision on who I will nominate for The United States Supreme Court. It will be announced live on Tuesday at 8:00 P.M. (W.H.)
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 30, 2017
“I have made my decision on who I will nominate for The United States Supreme Court,” the president posted on Twitter. “It will be announced live on Tuesday at 8:00 P.M. (W.H.)”
On the opposite end of the spectrum from CNN’s hedging, Independent Journal Review claimed an “Exclusive.” Reporter Benny Johnson claimed to have confirmation from two sources inside the administration that Gorsuch was the nominee. “Speaking on background, an administration source instrumental to the SCOTUS selection process tells IJR, ‘Yes. It is Gorsuch. 100 percent. The Hardiman thing is a head fake.'”
Federal district court judge Thomas Hardiman has also been heavily favored in rumors about Trump’s selection process, and both Hardiman and Gorsuch recently flew out to Washington, D.C.
Gorsuch, at the age of 49, would be the youngest Supreme Court justice in 30 years (since Clarence Thomas was confirmed at age 43). He currently serves as a judge on the Denver-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, to which he was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006. Gorsuch graduated from Columbia, Harvard, and Oxford, clerked for two Supreme Court justices, and did a stint at the Department of Justice under President George W. Bush.
Notably, he has praised the late Justice Antonin Scalia (whose seat he would be taking) and adopted Scalia’s dedication to textualism, a judicial philosophy interpreting laws based on their text rather than the much knottier “intent” of the lawmakers or other different sources of meaning. This will come as a relief to the 80 percent of Americans who described it as an “immediate priority” or at least an “important” one to appoint justices to the Supreme Court who will preserve the original meaning of the Constitution, according to a recent Marist/Knights of Columbus poll.
Justice Scalia and Judge Gorsuch
— Jake Tapper (@jaketapper) January 31, 2017
“Judges should … strive, if humanly and so imperfectly, to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be,” Gorsuch said in a speech to Case Western Reserve University’s law school shortly after the death of the late Justice Scalia.
Gorsuch is also notable for siding with Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor in key religious freedom cases.