Trump taps Gorsuch, son of Reagan EPA chief, for top court

President Trump will nominate Neil Gorsuch, a federal appeals judge, to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.

Gorsuch, 49, is a judge on the Colorado-based 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. He's also the son of the late Reagan-era U.S. EPA Administrator Anne Gorsuch Burford, who resigned after a rocky two-year tenure amid a scandal involving the Superfund program.

Trump announced his choice from a list of contenders that also included 3rd U.S. Circuit Judge Thomas Hardiman and 11th U.S. Circuit Judge William Pryor Jr.

Before becoming a judge, Gorsuch clerked for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy; practiced with the firm Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel; and served as principal deputy associate attorney general in the Justice Department.

President George W. Bush nominated Gorsuch to the 10th Circuit in 2006. He sailed through the confirmation process and was confirmed to the court on a Senate voice vote.

In a recent lecture at Case Western Reserve University, Gorsuch called the late Scalia a "lion of the law." Like Scalia, Gorsuch is an originalist and a textualist in his approach to the law. In other words, he believes that the Constitution should be read as written.

"Judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation," Gorsuch said, "rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views."

On the Supreme Court, Gorsuch could help tip the dynamics in favor of scaling back courts' deference to federal agency expertise.

He's no fan of the Chevron doctrine, a key tenet of environmental law under which courts defer to agencies when Congress has been silent or ambiguous on an issue. In a recent case dealing with the residency of undocumented immigrants, Gorsuch in August 2016 penned a 23-page concurring opinion condemning the doctrine and calling for its demise.

"We managed to live with the administrative state before Chevron," Gorsuch wrote. "We could do it again."

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) has said his caucus will only consider nominees who are "mainstream." Other Democrats have said they may oppose any nominee after Republicans blocked President Obama's nominee, Senior District of Columbia Circuit Judge Merrick Garland, from being confirmed.

"I know that they say they're going to filibuster I think anyone that our new president is going to nominate. And that's no surprise, we're anticipating that," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). "I just think we need to do everything we can to confirm a new Supreme Court judge, whoever he decides."

Reporter Geof Koss contributed.

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