by David Savage, LA Times, Jan. 24, 2017
Neil Gorsuch, 49, was among 21 potential high court candidates circulated by Trump’s team during the campaign. Judge Neil M. Gorsuch, a highly regarded conservative jurist best known for upholding religious liberty rights in the legal battles over Obamacare, has emerged as a leading contender for President Trump’s first Supreme Court nomination.
Gorsuch, 49, was among 21 potential high court candidates circulated by Trump’s team during the campaign, but his stock has been rising lately as several admirers and supporters have been named to positions in the Trump administration. In Gorsuch, supporters see a jurist who has strong academic credentials, a gift for clear writing and a devotion to deciding cases based on the original meaning of the Constitution and the text of statutes, as did the late Justice Antonin Scalia.
Just as importantly, Gorsuch is seen as someone who might be more easily confirmed in the Senate. Unlike other appointees of President George W. Bush, Gorsuch won an easy Senate confirmation on a voice vote in 2006.
"He is very bright, well-respected and quite personable," said John Malcolm, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation." And there's no question he would not be as contentious as some others." Until recently, the two top contenders for the first Supreme Court nomination by Trump were believed to be Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, who serves on the U.S. 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta, and Judge Diane Sykes of Wisconsin, who serves on the U.S. 7th Circuit Court in Chicago. Trump mentioned them in a Republican debate after Scalia died.
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