If Confirmed, Neil Gorsuch Would Fill Scalia’s Seat as the Supreme Court’s Only Protestant; Praised by ERLC’s Russell Moore, Focus on the Family’s Jim Daly, ACLJ’s Jay Sekulow

David Zalubowski / AP

President Donald Trump named Neil Gorsuch, a conservative, Ivy League-educated federal judge known for his way with words and defenses of religious freedom, as his Supreme Court nominee during a live broadcast Tuesday night.

A favorite pick among Christian conservatives, Gorsuch fulfills Trump’s promise to select a judge that “evangelicals, Christians will love” and who also stands a solid chance of scoring Senate approval. (Gorsuch’s federal appointment by President George W. Bush in 2006 was uncontroversial.)

“Judge Gorsuch’s combination of intellectual horsepower and work ethic has enabled him to excel academically at the world’s best universities, become a first-rate lawyer and judge, and develop remarkable verbal abilities,” said Robert Pushaw, a constitutional law expert and professor at Pepperdine University School of Law.

An Episcopalian, Gorsuch accepted what he called “a most solemn assignment,” remarking “I am so thankful for my family, my friends, and my faith. These are the things that keep me grounded in life’s peaks and sustain me in its valleys.” If confirmed, Gorsuch would become the high court’s only Protestant justice.

Southern Baptist Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission president Russell Moore, who tweeted that he hoped Trump would select the Denver judge, applauded the appointment:

His career is one that exemplifies the very best of intellectually robust conservatism, judicial restraint and faithfulness to the Constitution…. I look forward to Judge Gorsuch’s voice on the court for decades to come and pray that he will be an articulate and stalwart advocate for religious liberty and human dignity at all its stages.

Though Gorsuch has not ruled on Roe v. Wade, he calls for a consistent pro-life ethic surrounding end-of-life issues in his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, and is expected to side against abortion.

“As a family ministry concerned with the sanctity of life, marriage, and religious freedom, we are optimistic that Judge Gorsuch will continue to protect our cherished liberties, and earn the entire country’s respect as a member of our nation’s highest court,” said Jim Daly, president of Focus on the Family, in a statement. “It’s our hope that he will follow in the late Justice Scalia’s footsteps in boldly standing up to the whims of culture and have ‘the courage to suffer the contempt of the sophisticated world.’”

National Right to Life noted Gorsuch’s dissent defending Utah’s attempt to curb Planned Parenthood funding. Others including Americans United for Life and the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ) also praised his nomination. “He is decidedly pro-life and understands what it means to protect the constitutional freedoms afforded to all Americans,” said ACLJ chief counsel Jay Sekulow.

As a judge in the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion supporting Hobby Lobby’s contraception mandate exemption—a ruling ultimately upheld by the Supreme Court. He also sided with the Little Sisters of the Poor.

“He has been strong on religious freedom,” said Thomas Berg, a professor at the University of St. Thomas School of Law in Minneapolis. The religious liberty scholar admired how well Gorsuch described the moral dilemma of those who objected to the mandate:

All of us face the problem of complicity. All of us must answer for ourselves whether and to what degree we are willing to be involved in the wrongdoing of others. For some, religion provides an essential source of guidance both about what constitutes wrongful conduct and the degree to which those who assist others in committing wrongful conduct themselves bear moral culpability.

Gorsuch also argued on behalf of public religious displays in dissenting opinions for cases involving Ten Commandments monuments and roadside crosses. “I expect he would be an articulate defender of religion in public life,” Berg said.

Gorsuch, a 49-year-old father of two, memorialized his predecessor Antonin Scalia as a “lion of the law.” Legal scholars agree with Trump that Gorsuch fits the Scalia mold, particularly on measures of “originalism, a strict reading of the Constitution as written, and textualism, an equally strict reading of statutes rather than legislative history,” USA Today wrote.

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SOURCE: Christianity Today
Kate Shellnutt

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