WASHINGTON, DC - President Donald Trump announced Tuesday he will nominate federal judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. He is nominating Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
The 49-year-old Gorsuch has served on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver since 2006, after being appointed by President George W. Bush. He once worked at the Supreme Court as a law clerk.
If approved by the Senate, Gorsuch would take the seat left vacant since Justice Antonin Scalia died last year. Republicans refused to consider President Barack Obama's nominee for the seat, saying the choice should go Obama's successor.
He would be the youngest justice since Clarence Thomas joined the court in 1991 at age 43.
Gorsuch's legal philosophy
Gorsuch attended Columbia and Harvard, and also studied at Oxford, where he earned a doctorate in legal philosophy.
Gorsuch is a fourth generation Coloradan and a former clerk to both Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
On the bench he joined an opinion siding with closely held corporations who believed that the so called contraceptive mandate of Obamacare violated their religious beliefs. The ruling was later upheld by the Supreme Court. Gorsuch wrote separately holding that the mandate infringed upon the owners' religious beliefs "requiring them to lend what their religion teaches to be an impermissible degree of assistance to the commission of what their religion teaches to be a moral wrong."
He also wrote a majority opinion in a separation of powers case holding that too much deference was given to administrative agencies. This issue is a favorite of conservatives and Gorsuch's beliefs align with those of Scalia and Justice Clarence Thomas.
Gorsuch, in a speech last year at Case Western Reserve University School of law, aligned himself with Scalia's judicial philosophy.
"The great project of Justice Scalia's career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators. To remind us that legislators may appeal to their own moral convictions and to claims about social utility to reshape the law as they think it should be in the future, " he said. "But that judges should do none of these things in a democratic society."
Mother was EPA administrator
Gorsuch's confirmation would mean a return to Washington.
He spent part of his youth in Washington when his mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, served in the Reagan administration as administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.
She resigned in 1983 under controversy after refusing to turn over toxic waste records to Congress.
He served as a partner at a prestigious Washington Law firm, Kellogg, Huber as well as Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General.
Gorsuch and his wife Louise have two daughters. They live in Boulder, Colorado.