Photo of Donald Trump

Remarks on the Nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to be a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice

January 31, 2017

The President. Thank you very much, ladies and gentlemen.

When Justice Scalia passed away suddenly last February, I made a promise to the American people: If I were elected President, I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court. I promised to select someone who respects our laws and is representative of our Constitution and who loves our Constitution and someone who will interpret them as written.

This may be the most transparent judicial selection process in history. Months ago, as a candidate, I publicly presented a list of brilliant and accomplished people to the American electorate and pledged to make my choice from among that list. Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue to them when they voted for me for President. I am a man of my word. I will do as I say, something that the American people have been asking for from Washington for a very, very long time. Today—[applause]. Thank you.

Today I am keeping another promise to the American people by nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch of the United States Supreme Court—to be of the United States Supreme Court, and I would like to ask Judge Gorsuch and his wonderful wife Louise to please step forward. Please, Louise, Judge. Here they come. Here they come.

So was that a surprise? Was it?

I have always felt that after the defense of our Nation, the most important decision a President of the United States can make is the appointment of a Supreme Court Justice. Depending on their age, a Justice can be active for 50 years, and his or her decisions can last a century or more and can often be permanent. I took the task of this nomination very seriously. I have selected an individual whose qualities define—really, and I mean closely define—what we're looking for. Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline, and has earned bipartisan support.

When he was nominated to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he was confirmed by the Senate unanimously. Also—that's unanimous. Can you believe that nowadays with what's going on? [Laughter] Does that happen anymore? Does it happen? I think it's going to happen maybe again.

Also with us tonight is Maureen Scalia, a woman loved by her husband and deeply respected by all. I am so happy she is with us. Where is Maureen? Please stand up. Thank you, Maureen. Thank you, Maureen.

She is really the ultimate representative of the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia, whose image and genius was in my mind throughout the decisionmaking process. Not only are we looking at the writings of the nominee, and I studied them closely, but he is said to be among the finest and most brilliant—oftentimes the writings—of any judge for a long, long time.

And his academic credentials—something very important to me in that education has always been a priority—are as good as I have ever seen. He received his undergraduate degree from Columbia with honors. He then received his law degree from Harvard, also with honors, where he was a Truman Scholar. After Harvard, he received his doctorate at Oxford, where he attended as a Marshall Scholar, one of the top academic honors anywhere in the world. After law school, he clerked on the Supreme Court for both Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. It is an extraordinary résumé, as good as it gets.

Judge Gorsuch was born and raised in Colorado and was taught the value of independence, hard work, and public service. While in law school, he demonstrated a commitment to helping the less fortunate. He worked in both Harvard Prison Legal Assistance Projects and Harvard Defenders program. Brilliance being assured, I studied every aspect of his life. He could have had any job, at any law firm, for any amount of money, but what he wanted to do with his career was to be a judge, to write decisions, and to make an impact by upholding our laws and our Constitution.

The qualifications of Judge Gorsuch are beyond dispute. He's the man of our country and a man who our country really needs and needs badly to ensure the rule of law and the rule of justice. I would like to thank Senate leadership. I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together, for once, for the good of the country.

Congratulations to you and your family. May God bless you. May God bless our glorious nation.

Judge Gorsuch, the podium, sir, is yours.

Associate Justice-designate Gorsuch. Thank you. Thank you. Mr. President, thank you very much. Mr. President, Mr. Vice President, you and your team have shown me great courtesy in this process, and you've entrusted me with a most solemn assignment. Standing here, in a house of history, and acutely aware of my own imperfections, I pledge that, if I am confirmed, I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country.

For the last decade, I have worked as a Federal judge in a court that spans 6 western States, serving about 20 percent of the continental United States and about 18 million people. The men and women I have worked with at every level in our circuit are an inspiration to me. I've watched them fearlessly tending to the rule of law, enforcing the promises of our Constitution, and living out daily their judicial oaths to administer justice equally to rich and poor alike, following the law as they find it and without respect to their personal political beliefs. I think of them tonight.

Of course, the Supreme Court's work is vital not just to a region of the country, but to the whole, vital to the protection of the people's liberties under law and to the continuity of our Constitution, the greatest charter of human liberty the world has ever known. The towering judges that have served in this particular seat of the Supreme Court, including Antonin Scalia and Robert Jackson, are much in my mind at this moment. Justice Scalia was a lion of the law. Agree or disagree with him, all of his colleagues on the bench cherished his wisdom and his humor. And like them, I miss him.

I began my legal career working for Byron White, the last Coloradan to serve on the Supreme Court and the only Justice to lead the NFL in rushing. [Laughter] He was one of the smartest and most courageous men I have ever known. When Justice White retired, he gave me the chance to work for Justice Kennedy as well. Justice Kennedy was incredibly welcoming and gracious, and like Justice White, he taught me so much. I am forever grateful. And if you've ever met Judge David Sentelle, you'll know just how lucky I was to land a clerkship with him right out of school. [Laughter] Thank you. These judges brought me up in the law. Truly, I would not be here without them. Today is as much their day as it is mine. In the balance of my professional life, I've had the privilege of working as a practicing lawyer and teacher. I've enjoyed wonderful colleagues whose support means so much to me at this moment, as it has year in and year out. Practicing in the trial work trenches of the law, I saw too that when we judges don our robes, it doesn't make us any smarter, but it does serve as a reminder of what's expected of us: impartiality and independence, collegiality and courage.

As this process now moves to the Senate, I look forward with speaking with Members from both sides of the aisle, to answering their questions, and to hearing their concerns. I consider the United States Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world, and I respect the important role the Constitution affords it in the confirmation of our judges.

I respect, too, the fact that in our legal order, it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws. It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people's representatives. A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge—[laughter]—stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.

I am so thankful tonight for my family, my friends, and my faith. These are the things that keep me grounded at life's peaks and have sustained me in its valleys.

To Louise, my incredible wife and companion of 20 years, my cherished daughters who are watching on TV—[laughter]—and all my family and friends, I cannot thank you enough for your love and for your prayers. I could not attempt this without you.

Mr. President, I am honored, and I am humbled. Thank you very much.

NOTE: The President spoke at 8:02 p.m. in the East Room at the White House. In his remarks, he referred to Maureen McCarthy Scalia, wife of former Supreme Court Associate Justice Antonin G. Scalia. Associate Justice-designate Gorsuch referred to Vice President Michael R. Pence; former Chief Judge David B. Sentelle of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit; and his daughters Emma and Belinda. The transcript, prepared for immediate release by the Office of the Press Secretary, was received by the Office of the Federal Register on July 27.

Donald J. Trump, Remarks on the Nomination of Neil M. Gorsuch to be a United States Supreme Court Associate Justice Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

Filed Under




Washington, DC

Simple Search of Our Archives