Judge Neil Gorsuch hasn’t even started his U.S. Supreme Court confirmation process, yet Andrew Malcolm is using a HotAir.com column to look ahead to the next U.S. Supreme Court fight.

The 45th president could have several pattern-setting nominations, one of the reasons many conservatives pretended to ignore his Democrat background and voted for him over what’s-her-name.

Gorsuch is 49 meaning, if confirmed, he could serve a very long time. Getting him on the bench as Antonin Scalia’s replacement would merely maintain the ideological balance existing before Scalia’s death — four conservative, four liberal and a single swing justice, Anthony Kennedy.

The prime candidate for replacement either by retirement or death now would seem to be Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by far the oldest currently serving. She was born when Franklin Roosevelt was a brand-new president, making her 84 next month after 23 years on the court as a liberal favorite.

Imagine the struggle over Trump nominating another conservative from his famous list to replace that liberal stalwart. Talk about the Senate’s nuclear option! And talk about the looming importance of the 2018 midterm elections, when Democrats must defend 23 of the 33 seats up, giving the GOP potentially a good chance of enhancing its 52-seat majority. …

… Actually, the entire court is aging which is, we know, better than the alternative. Kennedy is 81. Stephen Breyer, another reliable liberal vote, is 79. Scalia was just shy of 80, when he died a year ago on Feb. 13. Clarence Thomas is 69. Samuel Alito is 67. John Roberts and Sonia Sotomayor are both 63. Elena Kagan is 57.