World

Trump shows off nominee, just like in a reality show

Colorado appeals court judge is US President's Supreme Court pick

WASHINGTON: A secret meeting at a neighbour's house, a drive through a back country road, and a clandestine flight on a military jet marked Judge Neil Gorsuch's trip to the White House after US President Donald Trump chose him as his Supreme Court nominee.

Mr Trump called Mr Gorsuch, 49, on Monday to inform him that he had prevailed among a handful of finalists to succeed Justice Antonin Scalia, who died nearly a year ago.

That decision set off a rapid and secretive process to get Mr Gorsuch to the US capital without alerting journalists and other Supreme Court watchers of the president's selection.

After Mr Trump called the Colorado appeals court judge, a team from the White House counsel's office flew to Denver and then drove to Boulder, about 45 minutes away, to meet Mr Gorsuch and his family.

They met at a neighbour's house to avoid detection.

Then White House staff members spirited him though a "back farm road" to a waiting military plane to take him to Washington, White House spokesman Sean Spicer told reporters on Tuesday night.

Mr Gorsuch stayed at a friend's home before being taken to the White House for the Tuesday evening announcement.

The secrecy continued up until the last minute.

Mr Trump, a former reality television star, entered the White House East Room alone and addressed the cameras and the waiting crowd, which included Mr Scalia's widow, at a podium before calling on Mr Gorsuch and his wife to come in.

"Here they come. Here they come. So was that a surprise? Was it?" said Mr Trump, ever the showman.

"He could have had any job at any law firm for any amount of money, but what he wanted to do was to be a judge, to write decisions and to make an impact by upholding our laws and our Constitution."

Here they come. Here they come. So was that a surprise? Was it? US President Donald Trump introducing his pick for the US Supreme Court

If the Senate confirms it, Mr Gorsuch's appointment will tilt the balance of the country's highest court five-to-four in the conservatives' favour.

The elegant, silver-haired jurist with a flair for incisive rulings is the youngest nominee in a generation.

His appointment could have a major impact on cases ranging from business regulation to gender rights to gun control.

For Mr Trump, the selection is payback to evangelical Christian and conservative Republicans who backed his bid for the presidency.

"Millions of voters said this was the single most important issue to them when they voted for me," Mr Trump said. "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."

The Supreme Court is the final arbiter of many of the most sensitive issues of American life and law. Its members are named to life terms, so their influence is long-lasting.

Given the advanced age of several sitting justices, Mr Trump could potentially make several appointments during his term, shaping the court's direction for a generation. - WIRES

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