WASHINGTON, D.C. President Donald Trump named his pick for a lifetime seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, tapping Judge Neil Gorsuch, 49, a federal appeals court judge from Colorado. Gorsuch is considered very much in the mold of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Scalia was a leading conservative voice on the court for decades until his death last Feb. 13. Democrats say they plan to block the nomination as both sides maneuvered for a hard fight.Supreme Court nominations require Senate confirmation, so on Tuesday Gorsuch met with Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell and other senators on Capitol Hill as he worked to drum up support for his nomination. He was well received by North Carolina’s two senators.”Judge Neil Gorsuch is an incredibly qualified and mainstream choice to serve on the Supreme Court,” said Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.). “He has proven himself to be a judge who approaches every case before him with fairness, and bases his decisions on the rule of law.” Republicans control the Senate by four seats, so Democrats, some of whom previously said they’d block any Trump nominee, signaled they would set up a procedural hurdle, known as a filibuster, meaning 60 votes rather than a simple majority would be needed to move the confirmation forward.The president urged McConnell to change Senate rules, eliminating the filibuster for Supreme Court nominees a move dubbed the “nuclear option” if Democrats block Gorsuch.”It’s up to Mitch, but if we end up with that gridlock, I would say: ‘If you can, Mitch, go nuclear,'” Trump said Wednesday.If Gorsuch is confirmed, he would be the youngest in decades. The court’s ideological shift could prove pivotal on a range of issues including presidential powers, abortion, the death penalty, and transgender, gun and religious rights.”This is truly an outstanding selection,” said N.C. GOP Chairman Robin Hayes in an interview. “He has impeccable credentials, a very high intellect, and is a consistent critic of ‘judicial discovery,’ which is finding things in the Constitution that just aren’t there. … He sticks with the founder’s intent and that is critically important to me.”Democrats remain furious over McConnell’s refusal last year to let the Senate hold confirmation hearings or a vote on Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland. This week, Gorsuch reportedly telephoned Garland “out of respect” and for his perspective on the confirmation fight.The White House went to great lengths to keep Gorsuch’s nomination under wraps, even bringing him into Washington by back roads and housing him at a private home until the announcement. Still, outside the Capitol and the Supreme Court, protesters were ready and waiting for Gorsuch’s nomination with preprinted signs and coordinated demonstrations.”We have allowed ourselves to become polarized and it demands reversal,” said Hayes. “Having manufactured signs before the pick is even made? They are saying they’ll fight Republicans all the way they need to be fighting for religious liberties, fair and equal treatment under the law and the principles under which the Constitution was written.” To get 60 votes for Gorsuch, Republicans hope to lure eight Democrats up for re-election in 2018 in Republican-leaning states or states that voted for Trump in November.Those include Democrats from Indiana, North Dakota, West Virginia, Missouri, Michigan, Montana and Wisconsin as well as closely divided Maine. Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wis.) said she would review Gorsuch’s record but was “deeply troubled” over his stances on women’s reproductive health care.Gorsuch is known for siding with the Christian owners of Hobby Lobby, which challenged federal requirements that businesses provide insurance coverage for women’s birth control. He’s also written against euthanasia and assisted suicide.”Unfortunately, Judge Gorsuch has proven to have a judicial philosophy outside of the mainstream and time and again has subjugated individual rights to those of corporations,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.).Sen. Joe Manchin, (D-W.V.) who met with the nominee on Wednesday, urged fellow Democrats to give Gorsuch a chance. Manchin, whose home state voted overwhelmingly for Trump, is up for re-election in 2018.Senate aides said Republicans were hoping the Judiciary Committee could hold hearings on the nomination by late March, paving the way for confirmation by the full Senate in the first week of April. If that happens, Gorsuch could be on the high court in time to year a major transgender rights case from Virginia.
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