Judge Neil Gorsuch: What you need to know about the next SCOTUS justice

The Senate Judiciary Committee voted today to advance Gorsuch's nomination.

ByABC News
April 7, 2017, 12:33 PM

— -- The United States Senate voted to confirm Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court Friday by a 54-45 margin. Gorsuch's elevation to the country's highest court comes almost 14 months following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia.

Gorsuch's nomination was marred by partisan battle in the Senate, during which Democrats attained enough votes to block him until Republicans employed the "nuclear option" to end floor debate on the judge by a simple majority rather than by 60 votes.

The newest associate justice will return the Supreme Court to nine justices, potentially affecting multiple cases which otherwise would have resulted in a deadlock.

Here's what you need to know about the potential Supreme Court justice:


Gorsuch, 49, is a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver. He was nominated by President George W. Bush in 2006 and confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote.

Gorsuch clerked for Judge David B. Sentelle on the United States Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit and then for Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch attended Harvard Law and has a Ph.D. from Oxford, where he was a Marshall scholar. In legal circles, he's considered a gifted writer. Like Scalia, he's a textualist and an originalist.

He is the author of "The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia," which looks at the legal and ethical issues surrounding assisted suicide. In the book, he concludes that no form of euthanasia should be legalized.

Key opinions

When it comes to religious liberties and access to contraception, Gorsuch is a defender of the First Amendment's free exercise clause, which reads, "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof."

He sided with Christian employers and religious organizations in the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases. The plaintiffs argued for an exemption from the contraception mandate in President Obama's signature health care legislation, the Affordable Care Act, citing their religious beliefs.

In the Hobby Lobby case, Gorsuch wrote, "The ACA's mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong."

When it comes to criminal procedure, he dissented in the United States v. Carlos case, arguing that police officers violated the Fourth Amendment when they entered a home that had a "no trespassing" sign posted.

What others have said

One of Donald Trump's Supreme Court advisers spoke highly of Gorsuch. "He has a very, very distinguished background," Leonard Leo told ABC News' Jonathan Karl and Rick Klein on the "Powerhouse Politics" podcast on Jan. 25. "He has probably 200 or so published opinions as an appeals clerk judge. They are extremely eloquently written. They're incisive, understandable, clear, opinionated."

Mark Lucas, the executive director of Concerned Veterans for America, which is backed by Charles Koch and David Koch, said of Gorsuch in a statement, "His concern for the least fortunate is evidenced by his countless opinions against things like overregulation and overcriminalization."

Constitutional expert Jonathan Turley told ABC News that Gorsuch is a "very intelligent person" who would not be that different from Scalia.

Gorsuch has a "coherent and consistent view of the Constitution," Turley said.

Interesting fact

Gorsuch is the youngest Supreme Court nominee in about 25 years.

ABC News' Jenny Hansler, Jonathan Karl, Erin Dooley and Katherine Faulders contributed to this report.

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