Trump selects Oxford educated ex-corporate lawyer who went to law school with Barack Obama as US Supreme Court nominee

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And Donald did it all on primetime TV


President Donald Trump has punted for an Oxford University educated ex-corporate lawyer as his United States Supreme Court nominee.

If given the green light by the Senate, 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch — who is currently a federal judge in Colorado — will become the youngest justice to be appointed to the top US court.

Restoring the Supreme Court’s conservative majority following the sudden death of Justice Antonin Scalia, Trump’s pick could have a divisive impact on contentious areas of US law including the death penalty and gun control.

But what do we know about Gorsuch?

He moved to Washington as a teenager and studied law at Harvard University alongside former president Barack Obama. Having clerked for two different Supreme Court justices, Gorsuch joined Washington-based commercial litigation outfit Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel. Working his way up the ranks he was made a partner at the firm in 1998.

Interestingly the conservative judge has a UK connection. In 2004, having received the prestigious Marshall Scholarship, he completed his DPhil in philosophy in law at Oxford University.

And in true Trump fashion a simple press release announcing Gorsuch’s nomination would not suffice.

Taking to primetime US TV, and Facebook Live, last night the newly-installed president unveiled the judge to the nation. Describing him as a man with “superb intellect” and “an unparalleled legal education” Trump said:

Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline, and has earned bipartisan support.

And for those struggling to comprehend the above think of it this way. Imagine if Lord Neuberger, who was elevated to the position of UK Supreme Court president back in 2012, was, at the time, presented to the British public during a half-hour slot between EastEnders and Silent Witness.

As Trump revealed his nomination the legal profession continued to rally round those affected by his new immigration ban.

Legal Cheek reported on Monday how lawyers from across the US, answering desperate pleas for help from various immigration and legal charities on Twitter, cancelled their weekend plans and headed to their nearest airport.

In the past 48 hours a number of big US firms have also offered their support. Steven Schulman, pro bono head at Akin Gump, revealed that the firm is ready to mobilise a number of lawyers in order to add “backbone” to the current efforts. Both Kirkland & Ellis and Latham & Watkins have also offered their services to those affected.

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“he completed his PhD in philosophy in law at Oxford University.”

Wrong, he did a DPhil at Oxford, not a PhD.


Thomas Connelly

Good spot! Thanks.


Katie King

This post has been removed because it breached Legal Cheek’s comments policy.



PhD = Doctor of Philosophy. DPhil = Doctor of Philosophy.

They are both abbreviations of exactly the same title. I don’t think it is wrong to call it a PhD, especially as that is the more generally recognised abbreviation, even if Oxford insist on being different.



Should it not be “philosophy of law” rather than “philosophy in law”?



He did his DPhil on ‘The right to receive assistance in suicide and euthanasia, with particular reference to the law of the United States’ under John Finnis, one of the world’s leading legal philosophers. So regardless of what you think of his politics (that appointees have political affiliations is another story…), or the fact he was appointed by Trump (which must surely be a mark against him) he is obviously extremely clever.


Not Amused

I’m not sure I would want someone who, presumably, agrees with John Finnis as a judge.

But then, I wouldn’t want to live in a country with such a deeply over powered and unnecessarily influential Supreme Court. These people are not living gods. They are all human beings and thus deeply flawed. I prefer the democratic voice of the people to oligarchs any day.


LL and P

He clearly has the credentials and as someone who leans liberal, I’m quite surprised the conservatives have found such a qualified candidate. Most textualist/ultra-conservative judges are very mediocre in terms of their academic backgrounds, often going to religious schools. He will be approved and the Supreme Court will be lost for at least a generation particularly if Ginsburg retires as expected.



Yes, we get it, anyone who doesn’t agree with you politically is stupid, poorly educated or mentally ill.



Said Trump.


Kellogg Huber, as the article says, is a litigation outfit, so presumably he isn’t an ‘ex-corporate lawyer’ but an ‘ex-litigation lawyer’?



What’s the starting salary for a NQ US Supreme Court justice, and can they get sushi in the canteen?



Legal cheek should do an article on his supervisor John Finnis and his views on Muslims, especially as contained in the article “Endorsing Discrimination between Faiths: A Case of Extreme Speech?”


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