When reality TV meets real TV: Trump’s live announcement that Neil Gorsuch is to be Scalia’s replacement in the Supreme Court

President Trump has named the Colorado appeals court judge on Tuesday (31st Jan 2017) to replace the late Antonin Scalia. Described by some as a ‘originalist’ when it comes to interpreting the constitution, this appointment is bound to please conservative Republicans.

Trump made clear on his campaign that he would be looking for someone who would satisfy the anti-abortion lobby, amongst others, when making this controversial appointment. So he may have just delivered…?

The choice of Gorsuch has already raised concerns amongst Democrats and civil rights groups, not least for which two of his most high-profile appeals court rulings saw him side with business owners who objected on religious grounds to funding birth control via staff insurance plans.

If confirmed by the Senate, Judge Gorsuch, aged 49, would restore the court’s conservative 5-4 majority, lost when Justice Scalia died.

Here’s the link that you should read:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-38827741

Included in this BBC article are links to:

In what’s becoming my mantra to A2 students this year, “Trump is the gift that keeps on giving” as far as having examples to point-up your evaluation is concerned. For example:

US Supreme Court (Unit 4) – Naturally this story is relevant! The balance of the court is vital to any administration, and equally vital to the social direction/composition of the USA itself. Should Gorsuch gain Senate approval (which he should, given the numbers), the fact that there are three other members of the Supreme Court who are all well into their 80s suggests that this may not be Trump’s only nomination. In this context the composition of the court may be about to enter a new era.

US Parties (Unit 3) – This sudden live announcement is arguably a very intelligent choice for Trump when it comes to him pointing-up his relationship with the Republican Party. He’s began his presidency with a flurry of Executive Orders and new appointments, which need approval/ratification from Congress and the Senate, so in appointing Gorsuch Trump is buying good grace from many voters, party members and – importantly – party politicians. The Republicans may have the mathematical advantage in both Houses post-November, but under separation of powers we all know that the whip is weak in the USA… especially for a president with only a lose history himself to the Republican Party.

US Congress (Unit 4) – The 115th Senate will have to approve Trump’s choice. With 52 Republicans to 46 (+ 2 Democrat caucus independents), Trump has the ‘Math’ (as they say). However, the controversy of his win to many Democrats (… what was that popular vote margin again?), plus the controversy of some of those Executive Orders, makes the current Congress as partisan as I can ever recall. As the BBC link above makes clear, the Democrats are in no mood to accommodate Trump’s appointments, which could see Gorsuch getting caught in the fire.          So with Republicans only holding 52 Senate seats, they may have to change Senate rules in order to approve Mr Trump’s nominee?

US President (Unit 4) – I’m not even sure this warrants me commenting as to why this is relevant to this topic too. As a new president Trump has a rare opportunity to influence the court. Given Gorsuch is only 49 years old, he could be influencing it too for long after the Trump presidency is over! This nomination will be a key indicator of his powers as president to influence Congress, his party, honour his election pledges to his voters and support his policy agenda going forward. For example, a court including Gorsuch will hear cases on voter rights, abortion, racial bias in policing and US immigration policy, and possibly on Mr Trump’s controversial executive order banning refugees. So it matters.

Even if Judge Gorsuch makes it through the Senate Judiciary Committee, he will face challenges when the entire chamber convenes for a final vote. Democrats may seek to prevent that second vote by prolonging, or filibustering, the debate. In that case, the nomination would need 60 votes rather than a simple majority.

US Civil Liberties (Unit 3) – No branch of government has had, or arguably still has, more effect on civil rights in the USA than the Supreme Court. So this appointment is hugely significant. Gay rights, abortion, immigration, pensions, Medicare, affirmative action, interpreting the XIVth Amendment etc. etc. ALL are reliant to a large extent upon the composition of the court. For example, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren has already accused the nominee of siding with large companies over American workers, which gives a taste of things to come when it comes to the approval process.

US Elections (Unit 3) – In short Trump’s campaign promises regarding Scalia’s replacement have been adhered to in Gorsuch’s nomination. Seen in this light, this nomination is democracy at work – isn’t it?

US Pressure Groups (Unit 3) – This will be a magnate for pressure group and lobbying interests in the USA. Already the home page of the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) website is saying:

“If Donald Trump follows through on his promises, people’s rights will be in jeopardy. The ACLU stands ready to take on any civil liberties violations, but we need the support of people across the country. Prepare us for any battles ahead – donate today.”

Gorsuch’s nomination will facilitate intense pressure group activities from all sides, count upon it!

So, get reading. This is a gift for you all no matter what topic you’re researching, writing or revising for.

For further insights into who and what Gorsuch stands for try this link. Read it (no really): http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2017/01/trump-gorsuch-supreme-court-scalia-20-214718

 

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