US President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, who proposes a strict interpretation of the Constitution, to be the ninth justice on the Supreme Court.
If he is confirmed, Mr Gorsuch, 49, of Colorado, would fill a vacancy left after the unexpected death of the staunch conservative Justice Antonin Scalia, considered one of the modern court’s most influential figures.
On Wednesday, Mr Trump announced he would nominate Mr Gorsuch to the court, which he said reflected his commitment to select someone who would interpret the constitution as written.
A favourite of conservatives
A graduate of Harvard Law, Mr Gorsuch now serves on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, having been nominated by President George W Bush.
He has been likened to the man he is hoping to replace, Justice Scalia, and is considered a favourite of libertarians and conservatives.
In a publicised vote on “religious freedom”, he sided with the company Hobby Lobby, which challenged an aspect of Obamacare law that meant it would have to pay for conceptive health coverage for its employees. Mr Gorsuch has no recorded position on abortion.
“He is celebrated as a keen legal thinker and a particularly incisive legal writer, with a flair that matches — or at least evokes — that of the justice whose seat he would be nominated to fill,” wrote the leading Supreme Court blog, ScotusBlog.
“In fact, one study has identified him as the most natural successor to Justice Antonin Scalia on the Trump shortlist, both in terms of his judicial style and his substantive approach.”
Mr Gorsuch’s nomination was widely welcomed by Republican politicians, but may lead to a fight with Democrats, who have expressed frustration over the GOP’s refusal to even consider President Obama’s pick for the Court last year.
Some have already indicated their concerns and opposition to Mr Gorsuch’s nomination.
Immediately after the announcement, Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown said he would not support Mr Gorsuch.
In his announcement on Wednesday, the President addressed possible opposition to his pick.
Mr Gorsuch said he was honoured to be nominated to fill the spot left by Justice Scalia.