Donald Trump
President Donald Trump speaks during the Inaugural Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders Reception in the Blue Room of the White House in Washington Sunday. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

President Donald Trump’s transition team narrowed last month his possible selections for the vacant U.S. Supreme Court seat down to five candidates. Now, one judge, perceived conservative Neil M. Gorsuch, has reportedly emerged as the frontrunner to fill the spot left open following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia last year, according to media reports.

Gorsuch’s name was part of a list of 21 potential nominees for the Supreme Court, which currently has only eight justices. His nomination is expected as early as next week, according to sources, ABC News reported Tuesday.

“In the next week or so, we should have an update on a nominee,” White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said during a press conference Monday.

The 49-year-old Gorsuch, who is perhaps best known for defending religious rights in the face of Obamacare, currently sits on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, Colorado and leads a shortlist of potential nominees that includes four federal appellate court judges in William Pryor of the 11th Circuit, Thomas Hardiman of the 3rd, Steve Colloton of the 8th, Diane Sykes of the 7th, and Joan Larsen of the Michigan Supreme Court, according to Daily Beast.

Gorsuch was appointed to the 10th Circuit by former President George W. Bush in 2006 and was confirmed by a voice vote, as opposed to a regular confirmation vote. If he is in fact nominated, Gorsuch would be the youngest nominee in the last 25 years.

Before his most recent appointment, Gorsuch served as a clerk for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He attended Harvard Law School and attained a Ph.D. from Oxford University.

Speaking at a luncheon Thursday, one day before his inauguration, Trump said he already had a good idea of who he was going to nominate for the bench, according to cell phone video attained by CNN.

"I think in my mind I know who it is," Trump said. "I think you're going to be very, very excited."

Correction: An original version of this article incorrectly stated why the Supreme Court must have nine justices on the bench at all times.