Trump taps Gorsuch for Supreme Court vacancy

President Donald Trump has nominated Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to a vacancy in the U.S. Supreme Court.

Trump, true to his campaign promise, picked Gorsuch from a list of 21 potential nominees he released during last year’s presidential campaign.

Gorsuch is on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit in Denver.

Conservatives, including the American Family Association, are celebrating the nomination. They say Gorsuch is a proponent of originalism – the idea that the U.S. Constitution should be interpreted as the Founding Father meant it. Ex-President Obama considers the Constitution “a living document” – one that can be reinterpreted without using the amendment process.

Gorsuch, who would replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, is a textualist and an originalist who believes judges should follow the text and original meaning of the Constitution.

According to an email by the AFA, “Gorsuch is a believer in a broad definition of religious freedom and sided with Christian employers and religious organizations in the cases of Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. and Little Sisters of the Poor.”

In the Hobby Lobby case, Gorsuch wrote: “The ACA’s [Obamacare] mandate requires them to violate their religious faith by forcing them to lend an impermissible degree of assistance to conduct their religion teaches to be gravely wrong.” In his dissent of the 2007 case Summum v. Pleasant Grove City, Gorsuch took the view that displaying a religious monument, such as the Ten Commandments, did not obligate a governmental authority to display other offered monuments, such as those from other religions.

Gorsuch, 49, opposes judicial activism and wrote in a 2016 law review article that “judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views.”

Confirmation hearings in the U.S. Senate are expected in about five weeks.

Oklahoma Senators James Lankford and James Inhofe approve of the Gorsuch nomination.

“Many Americans went to the polls last November to not only vote for the president, but to make their voice heard on the direction of the highest court in the land,” Lankford said. “Judge Gorsuch was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to the 10th Circuit. Based on his past legal opinions, Judge Gorsuch understands that the Supreme Court must act within its constitutional role as a third and independent branch of the federal government.”

Nominations for Oklahoma Supreme Court

In Oklahoma, there is a vacancy on the liberal Oklahoma Supreme Court and three nominations have been forwarded to Gov. Mary Fallin.

The Judicial Nominating Commission offered Solicitor General Patrick R. Wyrick, an employee of the state attorney general’s office; Bryan County District Judge Mark R. Campbell; and LeFlore County District Judge Jonathan K. Sullivan.

Under state law, Fallin has until March 20 to pick one of the three and submit his name to the Oklahoma Senate for confirmation. Fallin was scheduled to interview each candidate on February 7.

Wyrick, has not been a judge. He has been solicitor general for Attorney General Scott Pruitt’s office. He argued a case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 2015. He worked for GableGotwals in private practice previously.

Sullivan was in private practice for 20 years before becoming a judge 10 years ago. Campbell is the presiding judge for the Southeastern Judicial Administrative District of Oklahoma. He previously served as a district attorney.