Who is President Trump's nominee to be the new Supreme Court Justice?

Neil Gorsuch, a 49-year-old from Colorado, has been an appeals court judge for the past ten and a half years. He is a conservative, and is married with two teenage daughters.

He has qualifications from Columbia University, Harvard and Oxford. Given this is a job for life, he is quite a young nominee.

Legally he’s considered an Originalist - meaning that he interprets the Constitution from the point of view of those who drafted it, not modern interpretations, resulting in mostly conservative outcomes.

However, he does not have many published writings or judgments on the key issues of abortion, gun control, LGBT issues.

He has taken strong positions on religious freedoms. He came to national prominence in the US a few years ago when he ruled in favour of the famous Hobby Lobby case.

That was the case of a family owned retail company that refused to provide free contraception coverage as required under Obamacare, claiming religious objections to having to provide free contraception to their employees. Judge Gorsuch sided with them, it went the whole way to the Supreme Court and that decision was upheld.

While he has no clear public position on abortion, President Donald Trump did say that he was going to name someone who would reverse the Roe v Wade decision that legalised abortion nationwide in 1973.

Why did he get the nomination?

Donald Trump nominates Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court

Making the announcement last night, President Trump said he had nominated Judge Gorsuch because he had a “tremendous mind” and “an extraordinary resume - as good as it gets”. Mr Trump described him as the “man our country needs badly to ensure the rule of law and rule of justice”.

During the campaign trail, Mr Trump published a list of possible nominees, so that they could be vetted and opinions expressed, so the selection of Judge Gorsuch will not come as a complete surprise.

Many have described Judge Gorsuch as being in the same style as the judge he is replacing - the late Justice Antonin Scalia who died almost a year ago.

What difference will he make ?

If he is confirmed to the Supreme Court, his appointment will not change the balance of power in the nine-judge superior court. Currently there are four conservative justices and four liberal Justices and one vacant seat. Judge Gorsuch, a conservative, will replace the late Justice Scalia, also a conservative.

The deciding voice is often that of Justice Anthony Kennedy. Although he is a conservative, he is a centrist and is often the deciding voice is polarising cases. The appointment of Gorsuch, if confirmed, would restore that same balance of power.

What will the Supreme Court do now?

Antonin Scalia

It will proceed as it has since Justice Scalia's death, with just eight of the nine seats filled.

Judge Gorsuch cannot take the seat until he is confirmed by the Senate.

What happens next?

Judge Gorsuch’s nomination has to be approved by the Senate, by a majority of 60 Senators. Currently the Republicans have 52 seats, so they will need some Democrats to vote to confirm him.

There is a discussion going on within the Democratic party about what move to make next.

Before the vote, the judge will first have to undergo a rigorous hearing and Democrats will use that time to really investigate what his views are on hot button items like abortion, guns, and LGBTQ rights.

Democrats are really angry that Republicans didn't confirm Barack Obama's pick last year and want retribution. Many of them refer to this seat as the “stolen seat” as it was left vacant as Republicans refused to confirm a nominee from a "lame duck" president.

But other Democrats want to "play nice" on this nomination as it is "like for like" - conservative Gorsuch replacing conservative Scalia - it doesn’t change the balance of power. They want to keep their powder dry so to speak and really go to battle should Trump get to replace another judge during the term of office.

For example the centrist conservative Justice Kennedy, now 80, has privately spoken of retiring, and liberal Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is 83 and also might step down.

Replacing either, or both of those seats, with conservatives would dramatically change the balance of power, and could result in a 6-3 conservative majority, a balance that Democrats fear may not be reversed for decades.