The applause from conservatives swept across the nation late Tuesday after President Trump nominated Neil Gorsuch, a member of the 10th U.S. Circuit of Appeals in Denver, to the U.S. Supreme Court.
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There's been a vacancy there since early last year because of the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, an icon of conservatives who believe Congress writes the laws and courts interpret them.
Trump had promised during his campaign that if elected he would nominate someone in the mold of Scalia, who often publicly took to task the liberal justices on the Supreme Court for creating law out of thin air.
A flood of praise surged across social media networks within seconds of his nomination.
Gorsuch, who was unanimously approved for the 10th Circuit job a decade ago, was called by Sen. Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, "a highly credentialed jurist with the temperament an distinguished career fitting for a justice of the U.S. Supreme Court."
The senator said Gorsuch's record "reflects Justice Scalia's legacy of textualism and an ardent respect for the Constitution and rule of law."
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Activist groups also praised him.
Tony Perkins, president of the influential Family Research Council in Washington, noted the Supreme Court post was among the most significant for voters across America in their choice of Donald Trump as president.
"In the third presidential debate, Donald Trump drove home his point about the type of Supreme Court nominees that he would select. I believe that moment in the debate helped seal the deal with millions of social conservative voters. In fact, exit polling found that 21 percent of voters pointed to the Supreme Court as the 'most important factor driving their vote' and Trump won that group by 16 points," he said. "Judge Gorsuch's record over the last 14 years, especially on religious liberty, gives Americans every reason to believe he will make a fine Supreme Court justice. His reputation as a judge with integrity and dedication to the Constitution should be an encouragement to all Americans."
First Liberty Institute President Kelly Shackelford, who fought the Obama administration repeatedly over religious rights issues, said: "As a religious freedom law firm, we have one criterion for evaluating judicial candidates. We ask, 'Does this candidate have a proven record of upholding the Constitution, especially as it relates to religious freedom?' I am pleased to say that Judge Gorsuch has just such a record, authoring or joining multiple landmark opinions upholding religious freedom."
He cited opinions Gorsuch wrote or joined that blasted the Obama administration's abortion mandate and affirmed the constitutionality of Ten Commandments displays.
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Carol Tobias of National Right to Life said: "All too often, our efforts to protect unborn children and other vulnerable humans have been overridden by judges who believe they have a right to impose their own policy preferences. We are heartened that Judge Gorsuch appears to share Justice Scalia's view that federal judges are constrained to enforce the text and original intent of constitutional provisions, and on all other matters should defer to democratically elected lawmakers."
Penny Nancy, president of Concerned Women for America, called Gorsuch a "superb choice."
"This was a major issue that drove conservative women to the polls to overwhelmingly support him, and we are pleased to see him follow through on his commitment to the American people," she said. "The hundreds of thousands of members of Concerned Women for America now call on the Senate for a swift confirmation process."
In his introduction at the White House, Trump said Gorsuch has "a superb intellect, an unparalleled legal education, and a commitment to interpreting the Constitution according to its text."
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Born and raised in Colorado, the son of Ronald Reagan's interior secretary, he obtained degrees from Columbia, Harvard and Oxford. He clerked for Justice Byron White and Anthony Kennedy and said he was "honored and humbled" by the nomination.
Liberty Counsel, which also has been at the Obama administration over its repeated violation of religious rights, noted the 49-year-old could serve on the court for decades. The organization praised his rulings in siding with the state of Utah in defunding Planned Parenthood and in support of religious liberty arguments against forced abortion mandates under Obamacare.
"It's time to return this country back to the rule of law where judges interpret the original meaning of the Constitution and the laws before them," said Mat Staver, founder of Liberty Counsel.
On the issue of judicial activism, Gorsuch once said: "This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there's little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs – real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce – are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers’ arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide."
Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who also was on Trump's list of possible picks, said Gorsuch "is a judge's judge, who is well within the mainstream and always decides cases based on what the law says."
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., added Gorsuch is "a committed originalist, a strong defender of religious liberty and states' rights, and a bulwark against the administrative state."
Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin thanked Trump for the nomination.
"Judge Gorsuch has a distinguished record that demonstrates he will be fair to all Americans, no matter their background or beliefs. Like Justice Scalia, he believes that judges should base their decisions on the actual text of the Constitution and our laws, not on personal policy preferences."
Sen. Orrin Hatch said in a YouTube video that Gorsuch "has consistently demonstrated an abiding understanding of a judge's proper role: to 'say what the law is,' not what he might wish the law to be."
"If there is one man capable of filling the big shoes left by the late Justice Scalia, it is Neil Gorsuch. I applaud the president's inspired choice and will do everything in my power to ensure his confirmation," Hatch said.
The president of the Alliance Defending Freedom, Michael Farris, representing a group that also has battled Obama's moves to infringe religious rights, said he is "hopeful that Judge Gorsuch will continue to interpret the Constitution faithfully and according to the intent of the Founders."
As expected, Democrats in Congress, whose candidate, Hillary Clinton, twice failed to win the presidency, immediately voiced opposition to Trump's choice.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said his party will filibuster Gorsuch, meaning the nominee would need 60 votes in the Senate to be approved. However, that is only a Senate rule, and Republicans could decide to require a 51-vote majority for confirmation.
Democrats made that exact move several years ago to push forward several of their judicial nominees when they were in the majority, so it would not be without precedent.
Meanwhile, abortion industry leaders who are fighting even now to prevent Congress from pulling $500 million annually in taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood, stretched to find a concern.
Vicki Saporta of the National Abortion Federation, which also is in court fighting to block undercover videos documenting abortionists' sale of body parts, claimed Gorsuch "could jeopardize the lives and health of American women."
Also harshly critical was Jessica Grenna of the suicide-advocating Compassion and Choices who said Gorsuch "vehemently opposes end-of-life choices."
The "DNC Rapid Response" team immediately launched an email seeking to add names to its contact list.
The team fretted that "Gorsuch believes in severely restricting the power that federal agencies like the EPA have to regulate businesses."
The National Abortion Rights Action League warned the nominee "poses an existential threat to legal abortion."
Some of the left's alarm is based on the fact that several justices who lean left are near or older than 80 years of age, and Trump could have one or even two more appointments to make.
Trump pointed out that a Supreme Court justice's career can span decades, and his decisions can last a century.
And he pointed out the Senate's previous unanimous approval, asking, "Does that happen anymore?"
Alexandra Snyder, executive director of Life Legal, noted that Trump already by executive order has canceled American taxpayer funding of abortion overseas, and several cases already in the pipeline could end up before the Supreme Court regarding abortion.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, called for a swift Senate confirmation.
"President Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is a victory for Americans who are fed up with corrupt judicial activism. The judicial branch needs as much draining as the rest of the federal government swamp. President Trump avoided the temptation to nominate yet another politician to the Supreme Court. It is good we have a nominee who has a demonstrated record of applying the rule of law rather than legislating from the bench. The U.S. Senate should swiftly confirm him."
On Facebook, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said: "Last year, after the unexpected passing of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Senate Republicans drew a line in the sand on the behalf of the American people. Exercising our constitutional authority, we advised President Obama that we would not consent to a Supreme Court nominee until We the People, in the presidential election, were able to choose between an originalist and a progressive vision of the Constitution.
"In November, the People spoke, clearly. They elected President Donald Trump, who had repeatedly promised to nominate a justice firmly committed to the following the law and the original understanding of the Constitution. Today, with the nomination of the Honorable Neil Gorsuch from the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, President Trump has fulfilled that promise, and the rule of law will be all the better for it."
The pro-life SBA List's Marjorie Dannenfelser said: "President Trump has made an exceptional choice in nominating Neil Gorsuch to carry on the legacy of the late Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. In nominating Judge Gorsuch, President Trump has kept his promise to nominate only pro-life judges to the Supreme Court. Judge Gorsuch is a distinguished jurist with a strong record of protecting life and religious liberty, as evidenced by his opinions in the Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor cases, and in his doctoral dissertation in which he wrote that ‘human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable.’ In the coming days, we will mobilize the pro-life grassroots nationwide and in key Senate battleground states to urge the Senate to swiftly confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Should pro-abortion Democratic Senators choose to filibuster this immensely qualified nominee, they do so at their own political peril."
The National Rifle Association said Gorsuch, as a judge, has "demonstrated his belief that the Constitution should be applied as the framers intended."
"To that end, he has supported the individual right to self-defense."