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Gorsuch Billed As Western Conservative Among Supreme Court Choices

DENVER (CBS4)- President Donald Trump is scheduled to announce his nominee for the Supreme Court Tuesday night and among them is 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judge Neil Gorsuch.

Gorsuch, Thomas Hardiman and William Pryor are the three federal appeals court judges who are seen as the leading candidates.

Judge Neil Gorsuch
Judge Neil Gorsuch (credit: CBS)

Sen. Cory Gardner, a Republican representing Colorado, believes Gorsuch would be a "great choice" for the Supreme Court.

"This is a great opportunity for Colorado to have a Western voice on the court, somebody who understands Colorado water law, somebody who has a family history in our state," said Gardner.

Gorsuch, 49, serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, where he has made a name for himself as a graceful writer. Gorsuch is a graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, and served as a law clerk to Justices Anthony Kennedy and fellow Coloradan Byron White. If chosen, he would be the first justice to serve with a colleague for whom he once worked.

Neil Gorsuch (credit: 10th Circuit Court Of Appeals)

With a clear, colloquial writing style, Gorsuch has written in favor of courts' second-guessing government regulations, in defense of religious freedom and skeptically about law enforcement. He has contended that courts give too much deference to government agencies' interpretations of statutes.

He sided with two groups that mounted religious objections to the Obama administration's requirements that employers provide health insurance that includes contraception for women.

Neil M. Gorsuch
Neil M. Gorsuch is sworn in to U.S. Court Of Appeals for the 10th Circuit on Nov. 20, 2006. (credit: Denver Post / Getty Images Photo By John Prieto)

Pro-choice groups want Democrats to block the nominee the way Republicans held up Merrick Garland's nomination.

"I say we hold this one up too and I'm sorry it's going to come down to that but I'm very concerned about a lifetime appointment at this stage," said NARAL Executive Director Karen Middleton.

He is the son of President Ronald Reagan's Environmental Protection Agency chief, Anne Gorsuch. He worked for two years in Bush's Justice Department before Bush appointed him to his appeals court seat. He was confirmed by a voice vote in 2006.

Gorsuch has written 175 majority opinions and 65 concurrences or dissents in his decade on the 10th Circuit, according to Rebecca Love Kourlis, a former Colorado Supreme Court justice.

US President Donald Trump (credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Gorsuch also is a notable advocate for simplifying the justice system to make it more accessible, Kourlis said.

Gorsuch is also an avid skier, fly fisherman and horseback rider, Kourlis said. He teaches at the University of Colorado's law school in Boulder.

Each judge, Gorsuch, Hardiman and Pryor, was appointed to the appellate bench by President George W. Bush. Each appeared on Trump's list of 21 possible choices that he made public during the campaign, and each has met with Trump to discuss the vacancy that arose when Justice Antonin Scalia died nearly a year ago.

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