President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court.
NPR justice correspondent Carrie Johnson has more on Gorsuch, who currently sits on the federal appeals court in Denver:
Gorsuch has a sterling legal pedigree. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He also served as a clerk on the second most important appeals court in the country, in Washington D.C., for conservative Judge David Sentelle.
Like Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he's in line to replace, Gorsuch has cultivated a reputation as a memorable and clear author of legal opinions. He also considers himself to be an originalist. Lawyers who practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, where Gorsuch currently works, said he's a popular and approachable judge.
In typical Trump fashion, the run-up to the announcement played out with the typical bravado and suspense of a reality TV show — somewhat fitting for the former host of the The Apprentice.
The White House chose a prime-time announcement instead of the usual nomination during the day. And there were reports throughout the day that the two finalists for the seat — Gorsuch and Thomas Hardiman, another federal appeal court judge — might both be at the White House.
But in the end, it was only Gorsuch. However, Trump kept the suspense building as long as he could, walking out alone in the East Room in the White House to make his announcement. Soon, he invited Gorsuch and his wife to the front.
"Was that a surprise — was it?" Trump prodded.
After the 79-year-old Scalia died suddenly in February 2016, President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. But Senate Republicans refused to take up his nomination, arguing instead that the next president should be allowed to chose the next justice.
Now, Senate Democrats are weighing whether they should block whoever Trump's nominee is. Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., has already said he will filibuster the pick. The nominee has to get 60 votes to avoid a filibuster and move forward to a full Senate vote, so the White House needs eight Democrats to back the nominee.