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Penn professor Rogers Smith expects Gorsuch to be a reliably conservative, yet not extremist, voice on the bench.

Credit: Greg O'Beirne

On Tuesday night, 1968 Wharton graduate Donald Trump made what will likely be one of the most enduring decisions of his nascent presidency: he nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court of the United States.

In a ceremony permeated by the memory of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, President Trump named the youngest Supreme Court nominee in 25 years — one with the potential to shape the highest court of the land for decades to come.

Gorsuch, a judge for the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, attended Columbia University as an undergraduate before moving on to Harvard Law School and Oxford University — receiving both the Truman and Marshall scholarships along the way.

Citing “impartiality and independence, collegiality and courage” as the central tenets necessary for a successful judiciary, the Supreme Court nominee said it is a judge’s role to “apply, not alter, the work of the peoples’ representatives.”

In a Facebook statement, the Penn College Republicans praised the pick.

"We commend the President in his appointment of an ardent originalist, and await his swift confirmation," the group wrote. "Judge Gorsuch will be an incredible addition to the Supreme Court."

In an email statement to The Daily Pennsylvanian, Political Science professor Rogers Smith wrote, “Neil Gorsuch has elite credentials — the son of a Cabinet official and a graduate of Columbia and Harvard Law, like Barack Obama with whom he overlapped in law school.”

“He will be a reliably conservative, but not extremist, vote on the Court," Smith added.

Gorsuch, who served as a clerk to both the late Justice Byron White and current Justice Anthony Kennedy, has a history of mostly conservative rulings. For example, Gorsuch voted in favor of employers who refused to provide employees with certain types of contraceptive coverage on the basis of religious objections, The New York Times reported. 

“He is a politically wise choice for President Trump,” Smith added. “But we can still expect a fierce confirmation battle, as the Democrats have not forgiven Republicans for their refusal to confirm the similarly strongly credentialed, but moderately liberal, Merrick Garland.”

But in his announcement from the East Wing of the White House, President Trump expressed hope for bipartisanship.

“I only hope,” Trump said, “that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once, for the good of the country.”