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President Donald Trump has nominated federal judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. Lawmakers and advocacy groups immediately announced the choice and vowed to oppose his nomination.

Message To Dems: Block Neil Gorsuch Nomination 'Using All Available Means'

President Trump's pick for U.S. Supreme Court called 'extreme' and 'disastrous'

Lauren McCauley

Update, 8:10pm EST:

President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the empty seat on the U.S. Supreme Court. 

In accepting the nomination at the podium in the White House, Colorado federal appeals court judge Gorsuch called the late Justice Antonin Scalia "a lion of the law." Indeed, many have noted that Gorsuch follows in Scalia's footsteps; of all the potential justices scored on the Washington Post's "Scalia scale," Gorsuch scored highest.  

Democrats in Congress and progressive advocacy groups—incensed that the Republican-led Senate never acted on former President Barack Obama's nominee Merrick Garland—have vowed to fight Trump's pick. 

Once Gorsuch's name emerged, those cries grew louder. 

César J. Blanco, political director of the Latino Victory Project, said "Gorsuch's track record on women's reproductive rights and issues of discrimination and police brutality suggests he doesn't have all of our interests in mind nor that he could be independent of advancing Trump's agenda and saying no to him once he goes too far.

"The radical actions taken so far by the president—including his discriminatory executive order on refugees and immigrants—make clear that the next justice to the Supreme Court must be willing to serve as a check on extremist and unconstitutional policies that undermine our system of self-governance and our justice system," Blanco continued. "Republicans have been rewarded for their obstructionism and refusal to confirm Judge Garland. It is a sad day in our democracy, and Republicans celebrating the success of their obstructionism should be ashamed of themselves." 

Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace, said the choice proved the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers have their "priorities backward" when it comes to serving the American people.

"Empowered by spineless Congressional Republicans and an incompetent and malicious Trump administration," said Leonard, Gorsuch "could inflict serious damage to people in this country. Since the Trump administration has made it clear it will only make America great for corporate interests, everyday Americans must now work harder than ever with the growing resistance movements and their allies in Congress and the courts to actually make America great for all of us."

Democrats in the Senate, added Leonard, "can rest assured that they will have the support of the people in filibustering this appointment."

Earlier:

President Donald Trump is expected to announce his Supreme Court nominee at 8pm Tuesday evening, and the resistance is mobilizing.

Filmmaker Michael Moore and other progressive organizations put out the call early Tuesday encouraging people to rally outside their local federal courthouse to make their opposition to Trump's pick known.

"We need to go in large numbers to our local federal site at 7pm ET tonight to protest his pick whom he's promised will make abortion illegal," Moore wrote. "Call your local media to let them know you're going to be there. Take pix and video and post them on social media. We must be loud and present on this most important issue on this most important night."

At the same time, a coalition of groups—including MoveOn, NARAL Pro-Choice America, People For the American Way, the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Alliance for Justice Action Campaign, and the Center for American Progress Action Fund—will be protesting on the steps of the Supreme Court in Washington, D.C. while in New York City the National Action Network is planning to rally outside Trump Tower.

Inside the corridors of power, Democrats are also gunning for a fight after Senate Republicans' historic obstruction of President Barack Obama's Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland.

"This is going to be a huge fight over the country, as it should be," Marge Baker, executive vice-president People For the American Way, told the Guardian.

"The events of the last week demonstrate how important it is to have open and fair-minded courts," Baker continued, referring to the confusion and opposing views that surround Trump's Muslim ban. "Judging by the list of folks in the running for the nomination, that is not what we have."

According to "people familiar with the president's decision process," Trump has summoned his two finalists—Neil Gorsuch of Denver or Thomas Hardiman of Pittsburgh—to Washington, D.C. for the announcement as to who will fill the seat of late Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.

The Guardian reports:

A federal judge on the 10th circuit court of appeals in Denver, Gorsuch believes the constitution should be interpreted as the founding fathers intended, an approach Scalia championed. Gorsuch is a believer in religious freedom and sided with the Christian organizations in a case about whether the Affordable Care Act could compel them to provide contraceptives under insurance cover.

Hardiman, who sits on the third circuit court of appeals in Philadelphia, has advanced conservative interpretations of the law, particularly in "law and order" cases touching on issues such as sentencing guidelines and the death penalty. In a dissent, Hardiman argued that the first amendment did not grant the right to film police officers.

Anticipating that Trump will follow through on his vow and "appoint anti-choice Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe v. Wade," NARAL Pro-Choice America is also circulating a petition calling on senators to "ensure that Trump's Supreme Court nominee upholds the Constitution" and, "if not, commit to blocking the nominee by whatever means necessary."

As Moore and others have noted, Scalia's seat is only the first Supreme Court vacancy likely to be filled by Trump as Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Anthony Kennedy, and Stephen Breyer are all at least 78 years old.

What's more, as Climate Central's John Upton pointed out on Monday, "A broad refusal by Senate Republicans to approve judicial nominees during the last two years of Obama's second term means Trump could move quickly to fill 114 vacant federal judge positions. U.S. Courts data shows that to be the most vacancies in at least 20 years."

Glenn Sugameli, an attorney for the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife, told Upton that this creates "more opportunities for bad judges to get confirmed, for bad decisions to be issued, and for courts to tilt."

Or put more ominously, as Moore did: "This will damage the country for the rest of (many) of our lives."


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