Professors Lee Epstein, Greg Magarian, and Dan Epps discuss the implications behind President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.

Despite the hype surrounding President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court, a panel of faculty experts predicted a relatively smooth confirmation process. Led by Dean Nancy Staudt, the panel also observed that the appointment would yield little to no shift in the court’s overall ideology.

Commentary from the panelist included:

Professor Lee Epstein, a leading authority on Supreme Court history, offered data-driven predictions. First: Gorsuch would fall close to the ideology of Justice Samuel Alito, meaning that Justice Anthony Kennedy would again hold the swing vote frequently. “Overall, not much changes on the court.” Her research also predicts that Gorsuch will get 53 votes, based on the ideological leanings of the Senate.

Professor Greg Magarian, an expert in free speech and former clerk to Justice John Paul Stevens, agreed with another of Epstein’s assertions: The Democrats are unlikely to block Gorsuch’s confirmation. On one hand, he argued, a filibuster would have “value as symbolism and theatre.” On the other hand, he suggested Democrats might believe that “if [they] are seen as playing well, maybe it gives them greater leverage in a fight they are more likely to win later.”

Professor Daniel Epps, former clerk to Justice Kennedy and host of the First Mondays podcast, referred to Gorsuch as “about as good as it gets” as a nominee from a Republican president. Though he expects Gorsuch to maintain conservative stances on big issues, such as abortion, he offered evidence that Gorsuch “will be a very good justice” on statutory cases. “He’s someone who has thought a lot about the structure of the government and separation of powers and what the role of judges should be.”

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