John L. Allen Jr.: For Catholics, Trump’s SCOTUS pick may stir both hopes and fears

(Crux) Anyone familiar with Catholic social teaching knows it’s often not a good fit for the left v. right dynamics of American culture, and we got another reminder of the point on Tuesday night with President Donald Trump’s pick of Neil Gorsuch, an Episcopalian, as the next associate justice on the U.S. Supreme Court.

Considered a reliable conservative on most issues, Gorsuch seems likely to align with the Catholic Church’s positions on many matters but create possible heartburn on others. That’s assuming, of course, he survives what could be a bruising fight to approve his nomination in the U.S. Senate.

Gorsuch is a strong admirer of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he’s referred to as a “lion of the law” and whose seat Gorsuch would inherit, and most observers expect he would play a role on the court similar to the one Scalia occupied, emerging as a strong intellectual voice for a strict reading of the constitution. At just 49, Gorsuch would be positioned to sit on the Supreme Court for a long time, potentially decades.

Born in Denver but raised in Washington, Gorsuch has a stellar intellectual pedigree, featuring degrees from Colombia, Harvard and Oxford. (At Oxford he studied under Australian legal philosopher John Finnis, who converted to Catholicism in 1962, who’s drawn on St. Thomas Aquinas in his work, who later became a member of the Vatican’s International Theological Commission and whose work there is believed to have influenced St. Pope John Paul II’s 1993 encyclical Veritatis Splendor on the importance of moral absolutes.) [More]