Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, 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, reports the Los Angeles Times. Gorsuch, 49, was among 21 potential high court candidates named by Trump during the campaign, and his stock has been rising lately as several admirers and supporters have been named to positions in the Trump administration.
Gorsuch is a former clerk for Justice Byron White, also a Colorado native, and Justice Anthony Kennedy, and he served in the George W. Bush administration’s Justice Department. 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. Gorsuch is seen as someone who might be more easily confirmed in the Senate. “He is very bright, well-respected and quite personable,” said John Malcolm of 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 nomination were believed to be Judge William Pryor 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.