President Trump announced on Tuesday night that he would nominate Neil Gorsuch, a Denver federal appeals court judge, to the Supreme Court, the New York Times reports.
Nominated to fill the seat of Antonin Scalia, which has remained open since February of 2016, Gorsuch is known for his lean toward conservatism – though the Times notes that he is not necessarily exclusively conservative or ideologically extreme. In terms of his legal philosophy, he has a history of siding with corporations that believe being mandated to cover contraception violated their religious beliefs, and has publicly aligned himself with Scalia’s conservative judicial philosophy, according to CNN.
He also boasts an impressive resume: he was in the same Harvard Law School class as President Obama, and holds a Ph.D from Oxford University, where he was a Marshall Scholar. At 49, he may also become the youngest-ever Supreme Court justice.
If confirmed, Gorsuch would swing the court back in a conservative direction, creating a 5-to-4 balance between conservative and liberal judges, with Justice Anthony Kennedy acting as the swing vote, CNN reports. Because of this, it’s unlikely that the court could make decisions like overturning Roe v. Wade or limiting women’s access to healthcare right away, but considering many of the justices are in their 70’s and 80’s, it’s also not unthinkable that Trump could fill another seat during his presidency – and that’s when these issues would run into real danger.
It’s likely that the confirmation process will see plenty of backlash from Democrats, who are still upset with Republicans’ refusal to confirm Obama’s nominee in 2016. According to CNN, they have already vowed to do so, “tooth and nail.”
In any case, if he’s confirmed, Gorsuch could have the power to influence major U.S. legal decisions for years even beyond the Trump presidency – many of which could have a huge impact on women’s, minority and LGBTQ rights.