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Neil Gorsuch. Wiki­media Commons

When Pres­ident Trump nom­i­nated Judge Neil M. Gorsuch on Tuesday to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant by the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Hillsdale College stu­dents and faculty expressed cau­tious approval for the jurist whose orig­i­nalist phi­losophy and con­ser­v­ative tilt liken him to Scalia himself.

Most recently a federal appeals court judge in Denver, Gorsuch pre­vi­ously clerked for Asso­ciate Justice Anthony Kennedy and former Asso­ciate Justice Byron White. Leaders from all corners of the Repub­lican Party have come out in favor of Trump’s nominee, including Ken­tucky Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. If con­firmed, Trump’s nominee would restore the 5-to-4 split between con­ser­v­a­tives and lib­erals on the court.

Assistant Pro­fessor of Pol­itics Adam Car­rington said Gorsuch seems not only a “first-rate mind” and “first-rate writer” but also a nominee who could appease voters who chose Trump solely on his promise to nom­inate a Scalia-like justice.

“The early indi­ca­tions of his record show that Gorsuch would be a tex­tu­alist,” Car­rington said. “He would be someone ded­i­cated to a form of orig­i­nalism that a lot of people that were wanting a Scalia pro­totype would want. It seems like they’ll be very happy with that.”

Senior Bridget DeLapp, former intern for Michigan Supreme Court Jus­tices David Viviano and Joan Larsen, said she was imme­di­ately impressed with Gorsuch’s record and roster of sup­porters.

“It gives you con­fi­dence that a lot of these strong con­ser­v­ative leaders are so adamantly in favor of him, and looking at his record, he seems to be a strict con­sti­tu­tion­alist, which is what we want,” DeLapp said. “You never want par­tisan judges. You want judges who are going to believe in the rule of law over the rule of emotion.”

Pro­fessor of Pol­itics Thomas West, however, said Gorsuch’s Ivy League edu­cation — grad­u­ating from Harvard Law School the same year as former Pres­ident Barack Obama — and his Epis­co­palian faith raise red flags in terms of his con­ser­v­ative values. West said outside of Gorsuch’s oppo­sition to assisted suicide, there is not much on the nominee’s per­sonal views of right and wrong.

“He has a back­ground that makes me wonder, ‘Is this guy actually any kind of con­ser­v­ative at all?’” West said. “To me, he’s a big question mark.”

In a ruling last August, Gorsuch argued that the Chevron Doc­trine, which says courts are sup­posed to defer to federal agencies when inter­preting vague or ambiguous laws defining their respon­si­bil­ities, should be recon­sidered.

“To me that’s a pos­itive, because I think that’s what it’ll take to restore Repub­lican gov­ernment in America,” West said. “The judi­ciary and the bureau­cracy need to stop trying to change what Con­gress has leg­is­lated and instead follow it.”

Junior Adrienne Carrier, an eco­nomics major, said she was pleased but sur­prised by Trump’s nom­i­nation of Gorsuch over Judge Thomas Hardiman of the Third Circuit Court of Appeals.

“Hardiman was little more typical of the nar­rative that Trump had been trying to push and maybe a little more sym­pa­thetic to Trump’s sup­porters,” Carrier said. “Although the nom­i­nation of Gorsuch may be part of the Trump administration’s goal to overturn a lot of the Wash­ington agencies. That could be very valuable and con­sistent with Trump’s policies that are pro-business and anti-Wash­ington.”

Now, Gorsuch, pre­vi­ously a federal appeals court judge in Denver, must meet the 60-vote threshold needed in the Senate replace Scalia. Some Democrats have promised to oppose Trump’s nominee, after Senate Repub­licans refused for nearly a year to con­sider Obama’s choice for Scalia’s suc­cessor.

“I don’t know how much of a fight there will be — although there always is one,” Car­rington said. “This pick doesn’t change the com­po­sition of the court, so I could see Democrats saving some of their powder for if someone retires and could actually flip the ballots.”

West said the real battle in America will have to do with the elected branches, not the judi­ciary.

“Con­ser­v­a­tives gen­erally vastly over­es­timate the impor­tance of the judi­ciary,” West said. “So, in the end, what I’m hoping for is that he’s not crazy. If his attitude is judicial restraint and that Con­gress should be respected when they pass laws, and the Constitution’s text should be paid attention to, then that’s good.”