Last night, Donald Trump appointed Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace the late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who passed away last February. According to Trump, he kept Scalia’s credentials in mind while choosing the 49-year-old Denver, Colorado native for the job. Considering the turbulent political climate, Gorsuch has a tough job ahead of him.
Here’s what you need to know about the SCOTUS pick.
1. He’s one of the youngest nominees ever.
And it’s not the first time he’s been in this situation. In 2006, Gorsuch was appointed to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals by President George W. Bush at the young age of 36, making him one of country’s youngest federal appeals court judges. Now, at 49 years old, Gorsuch stands as the youngest Supreme Court nomination since Justice Clarence Thomas, who was appointed in 1991 at the age of 43.
“Depending on their age, a justice can be active for 50 years and his or her decisions can last a century or more and can often be permanent,” Trump said at the announcement on Tuesday.
2. He is very similar to the man he is replacing.
After Justice Antonin Scalia died last February, Gorsuch gave a speech about his legacy at Case Western Reserve University, where he called Scalia a “lion of the law.” Despite Scalia being a highly controversial political figure, Gorsuch agreed with his assessment that “legislators may appeal to their own moral convictions and to claims about social utility to reshape the law as they think it should be in the future. But that judges should do none of these things in a democratic society.”
He also interprets the constitution literally (like his predecessor) rather than through historical or social contexts.
3. His mother headed the EPA.
And she was the first woman to ever do so. Gorsuch is the son of Anne Gorsuch Burford, who served as the head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Reagan’s administration from 1981 to 1983. During her service, Burford worked to dismantle the EPA and cut its budget 45 percent during her last two years.
4. He went to school with Barack Obama.
Gorsuch graduated from Harvard Law School with his Juris Doctor in 1991 and was in the same graduating class as former President Barack Obama. Later, he earned his Doctor of Philosophy from Oxford University, graduating in 2004.
5. He is an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Law School.
Gorsuch has been teaching as an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Law School in Boulder, Colorado since 2012. He taught two courses at the university and received a ton of praise from students.
“I found him to be a person of character and quality, intellectually curious and willing to debate all sides,” Jordan Henry, a liberal student, told The Denver Post. “I think he’s dedicated to the truth, to justice, to the justice system. I may not always agree with him but I do think he gives all voices a fair hearing, and that’s all you can ask of a judge.”
6. He wrote a book about life issues.
After studying the issues at Oxford, Gorsuch wrote a book about the moral and legal arguments surrounding the end-of-life debate. He called the work, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.” He opposes the issues, writing, “All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
7. He generally favors the state over federal government.
In the past, Gorsuch criticized liberals for relying too much on the power of the courts. “This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary,” he wrote in 2005.”