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UPDATED: February 1, 2017 at 1:18 a.m.
President Donald Trump nominated Neil M. Gorsuch, a graduate of Harvard Law School, to the United States Supreme Court in a ceremony at the White House Tuesday.
If confirmed, Gorsuch will be the sixth member of the current court to have attended the Law School.
Gorsuch succeeds Antonin Scalia, who passed away in February 2016. Gorsuch earned his J.D. from the Law School in 1991, where he also received a Truman Scholarship and worked for the Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Project and the Harvard Defenders program.
"His work as a federal judge, scholar, teacher, and lawyer in both public and private practice, show commitment to rigorous thinking and fairness, and the nation is fortunate to have the benefit of his talents," Law School Dean Martha L. Minow wrote of Gorsuch in a statement.
President George W. Bush nominated Gorsuch to a federal judgeship in 2006.
Gorsuch follows a judicial philosophy that argues for a strict reading of the Constitution that tends to produce more conservative rulings, similar to that of Scalia’s. He spoke of about his judicial approach in a speech following his nomination.
“It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives,” Gorsuch said. “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches, is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers, rather than those the law demands.”
Trump’s nomination comes months after he released a list of potential candidates for the role while still a candidate for president. Former president Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland ’74, also a Harvard Law School graduate, following Scalia’s death, but Senate Republicans blocked his nomination for months. Democratic Senators have threatened to attempt to block any Trump nominee that fell outside of the “mainstream.”
Gorsuch will now face the U.S. Senate for confirmation. If Democrats filibuster, more than 60 Senators will need to vote for him to overcome the Democratic block. Trump has urged the Senate to alter its normal proceedings and require a simple majority vote to confirm Gorsuch.
Trump said in his nomination speech that Gorsuch’s academic credentials, including his undergraduate degree from Columbia and doctorate from Oxford, were “as good as I have ever seen,” and emphasized his hope for a Senate confirmation.
“I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once, for the good of the country,” Trump said.
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