Constitutional scholar and longtime Harvard Law professor Alan Dershowitz called President Donald Trump's selection of 10th Circuit Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat of the late Justice Antonin Scalia "a smart appointment."
Just moments after Trump announced his selection Tuesday night, Dershowitz told Newsmax: "I think Trump was smart to pick someone who was highly credentialed and hard to oppose."
Dershowitz said Gorsuch is "among the best people on that list of 21" potential nominees Trump had rolled out during the campaign, adding, "He'll be hard to oppose on the merits."
That Senate Democrats will attack Gorsuch, whose nomination received immediate and outspoken plaudits from social conservatives, is considered inevitable.
Dershowitz predicts they will use Republican intransigence in refusing to act on President Obama's nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, to justify additional scrutiny of Gorsuch.
Dershowitz also noted the inconsistency of Trump, who ran a populist campaign that attacked elites, nominating a Harvard law graduate for the Supreme Court.
"It's exactly what he's been doing," said Dershowitz, noting many of Trump's cabinet picks also have wealthy, politically connected resumes. "He ran on one campaign, and then he seems to be appointing on other criteria. But I can't criticize that. I think this is a smart appointment."
Dershowitz said Gorsuch is "less of an originalist than Scalia was, but he had some of the same elements of Scalia," adding, "He has a libertarian strain to him. He's written some good opinions in the areas of the constitutional rights of people who have been charged with a crime."
Democrats might have difficulty portraying Gorsuch as someone outside the political and cultural mainstream.
"I don't think it would be fair to call him an extreme right-wing ideology; that doesn't seem to fit what I know about him," Dershowitz said, adding Gorsuch has a reputation as a "very easy guy to get along with."
The famed constitutional lawyer also quipped, as a Harvard Law School professor emeritus, he is delighted to see another Harvard alumnus nominated to serve on the High Court.
"To me the important thing, and here I'm joking of course, is it maintains the very important balance between Harvard and Yale law schools," he said.
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