Twelve days after Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died, in February 2016, the Republican presidential candidates took the stage for the final debate before Super Tuesday. Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, a panelist that night in Houston, directed his first question to Ted Cruz.
"Do you trust Mr. Trump to nominate conservative justices?" Hewitt asked.
Like others in the conservative media, Hewitt was concerned that Trump — who previously described himself as "very pro-choice" — would be unreliable. After Cruz deflected the inquiry, Hewitt questioned Trump directly.
"Will you commit to voters tonight that religious liberty will be an absolute litmus test for anyone you appoint, not just to the Supreme Court, but to all courts?" he asked.
"Yes, I would," Trump replied.
If Hewitt had any lingering doubts, Trump put them to rest Tuesday night when he nominated Colorado federal Appeals Court Judge Neil Gorsuch to replace Scalia.
Moreover, the president's selection of Gorsuch was viewed in the conservative press as a promise kept — even by some harsh Trump critics.
If Trump wants to win over conservatives in the media who opposed him during the campaign, he took a big step on Tuesday.