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Apr 13 2017
by Maya Ungar

5 Things You Need to Know About the New Supreme Court Justice

By Maya Ungar - Apr 13 2017
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This Monday, the United States government finally filled the vacancy on The Supreme Court that has been empty since Justice Scalia’s death last year. Neil Gorsuch is the new ninth supreme court justice, and will continue to serve as a justice until retirement or death. In order to acquaint yourself a little bit more with a man who will have a huge deciding factor in American law for the next several decades, Fresh U put together a list of five things you need to know about the new supreme court justice.

1. His background.

Neil Gorsuch was previously a judge on the Denver Circuit Court of Appeals. He attended Harvard Law and also boasts a Ph.D. from Oxford. He is also an author and has written books condemning doctor-assisted suicide.

2. Gorsuch is the youngest supreme court justice.

One of the most interesting parts of Justice Gorsuch’s nomination is his age. He is a mere 49 years old, the youngest member of the court (Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the oldest member of the court, is a staggering 35 years older than him). This is significant because supreme court justices serve for life, therefore, he will most likely have a say in the court for much longer than the normal justice. Many Democrats are also worried that with Ruth Bader Ginsburg being so old, she might pass away soon. And, that if this happens, Trump will certainly replace another justice with a young conservative, effectively shifting the balance of the court for generations to come.

3. His policies and political leaning.

Justice Gorsuch is known as a strong conservative and constitutional originalist. He replaced Justice Scalia, who unexpectedly died last year on the job. In terms of maintaining the prior balance of the court, Gorsuch is ideologically a good replacement. His strict constructionist attitude towards the constitution is very remnant of Justice Scalia. With confirmation, it is predicted that the court will return to its previous dynamic that it had with Scalia, where Justice Kennedy will be the deciding vote on a lot of very divisive cases.

4. Obama’s pick and the controversy surrounding it.

One of the reasons that this issue became so politically charged was because of Merrick Garland. Right after Scalia died, Obama began to look for a replacement, which he found in the moderate Merrick Garland. However, Republicans in Congress refused to even give Merrick Garland a hearing, effectively freezing him out of the position for political means. This caused an uproar among Democrats, and led to a lot of backlash.

5. His confirmation went politically nuclear.

Backlash from the Merrick Garland case mixed with the controversy of certain votes such as the Hobby Lobby case caused Democrats to not accept Gorsuch in the Senate. Therefore, Republicans were not able to get the necessary amount of votes to confirm Gorsuch through precedent. However, they were able to work around the Democrats' objections by “going nuclear." This means that they rewrote the rules so that they no longer needed 60 votes to answer. While this is condemned as wrong by many, Democrats also did it in 2013, making it not an abnormal decision.

While this confirmation was very political, everyone can agree that it is a benefit to once again have all nine justices on the Supreme Court. However, only time will tell the impact that Gorsuch himself will have on American law and precedent.

Lead Image Credit: CNN

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Maya Ungar - University of Arkansas

Maya Ungar is a sophomore at the University of Arkansas triple majoring in International Studies, French and Political Science. Maya is obsessed with cheese, the color yellow and politics. Follow her on Instagram @mayaungar

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