President Donald Trump on Tuesday nominated Neil Gorsuch for a lifetime job on the U.S. Supreme Court.
The 49-year-old federal appeals court judge will restore the court’s conservative majority and help shape rulings on divisive issues such as abortion, gun control, the death penalty and religious rights.
The Colorado native faces a potentially contentious confirmation battle in the U.S. Senate after Republicans last year refused to consider Democratic President Barack Obama’s nominee to fill the vacancy caused by the February 2016 death of conservative justice Antonin Scalia.
Gorsuch is the youngest nominee to the nation’s highest court in more than a quarter century, and he could influence the direction of the court for decades.
Some Democrats have threatened to pursue a procedural hurdle called a filibuster, meaning 60 votes would be needed in the 100-seat Senate unless its long-standing rules are changed. Trump’s fellow Republicans hold a 52-48 majority, meaning some Democratic votes would be needed to confirm his pick.
Trump said last week he would favor Senate Republicans eliminating the filibuster, a change dubbed the “nuclear option,” for Supreme Court nominees if Democrats block his pick.
Trump during his presidency may get to make additional appointments to the Supreme Court. Liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, is 83 while Kennedy is 80. Stephen Breyer, another liberal, is 78.