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Why Liberals Should Back Neil Gorsuch
I am hard-pressed to think of one thing President Trump has done right in the last 11 days since his inauguration. Until Tuesday, when he nominated an extraordinary judge and man, Neil Gorsuch, to be a justice on the Supreme Court.
I believe this, even though we come from different sides of the political spectrum. I was an acting solicitor general for President Barack Obama; Judge Gorsuch has strong conservative bona fides and was appointed to the 10th Circuit by President George W. Bush. But I have seen him up close and in action, both in court and on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee (where both of us serve); he brings a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation’s highest court.
I have no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law. His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence — a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him. Judge Gorsuch’s record suggests that he would follow in the tradition of Justice Elena Kagan, who voted against President Obama when she felt a part of the Affordable Care Act went too far. In particular, he has written opinions vigorously defending the paramount duty of the courts to say what the law is, without deferring to the executive branch’s interpretations of federal statutes, including our immigration laws.
Neil Gorsuch has been nominated by President Trump to become the next Supreme Court Justice. Assuming approval by the Senate Judiciary Committee, Gorsuch would fill the seat vacated by the passing of Antonin Scalia. Gorsuch is by all accounts an extremely qualified candidate, having earned his JD from Harvard, DPhil from Oxford, and serving as Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit for over a decade. Furthermore, at 49 years of age, the SCOTUS nominee would be in a position to serve on the nation’s highest court for decades. The nomination of Gorsuch; however, is not without controversy. Gorsuch has strong conservative learnings on a variety of issues, especially gay marriage, euthanasia/ assisted suicide, & abortion, while also being a firm proponent of originalism & textualism (Wikipedia):
- Originalism: belief that the Constitution should be interpreted as when it was enacted, aka as perceived by framers of the Constitution
- Textualism: theory that the law should be interpreted literally, with no consideration of legislative history & the underlying purpose of the law
Basically, Gorsuch is going to be Scalia 2.0 with many analysts projecting that he will be vote even more conservatively than Scalia.
Furthermore, this seat was supposed to have gone to a more liberal judge until a recent Republican Hail Mary, also known as Donald J. Trump, worked out well for their partisan interests.
Senate Republicans made the less-than-kosher, but NOT illegal, move of refusing to hold a nomination hearing for Merrick Garland, Obama’s nominee to replace Antonin Scalia after he passed back in February of 2016. Yes, this deliberate delay illustrated a key problem with overly partisan tactics in the American political system. However, the ploy worked perfectly and now the Republican Party has a stranglehold on power after being declared a listless, fractured entity in need of soul-searching for the past few years. Case in point: the nomination of Gorsuch is a double blow for the Dems: their guy got shafted and the other GOP’s guy gets the nod.
Advice for Democrats:
Democrats should not return the favor by trying to play hard ball for two reasons:
- It won’t work. The party provided such an insufficient message to their constituencies that they have lost control of both houses of the legislative as well as the executive branch. This fundamental failure has now set them up to lose control of the third and final branch. Now, we have a reality TV star running our nation. Poke the bear and you have to know that he is only going to burn you further.
- It’s not in their partisan interest. Anthony Kennedy, the most moderate right-leaning justice who would act as the decisive swing vote in closely divide cases, may straight-up resign if Democrats apply too much heat.* Trump being given the chance to nominate a second justice would lead me to assume that Democrats are engaging in some sort of masochistic self-sabotage. Any attempt to impede the nomination, which won’t work anyway, will create an environment that adds more fuel to the purge of liberal perspective from the judiciary. President Trump could then nominate a 13-year-old in a MAGA hat to the SCOTUS just to spite everyone (and it would probably work). My advice to the Democratic party: don’t play in the mud, you will lose.
Worldwide climate change preparation, renewable energy investment, systematic tax reform, streamlined defense spending, & drug policy reform are views that define my civic consciousness. Judge Gorsuch could very well prove to be a tremendous impediment to the socio-economic, environmental, & political issues that I hold most dear.
However, as Gorsuch has stated in an interview with the National Review (conservative media outlet), the role of the judicial branch is not too further social causes. In fact, the only true asset of the judiciary, and the reason for the framers of the Constitution created it, is its independence from politicization. Continuing to politicize the judicial branch is a fundamental issue that Gorsuch believes to be eroding the vitality of the SCOTUS. Yes, the man holds firm conservative beliefs. However, Gorsuch has proven that his strongest conviction is to uphold the rule of law, regardless of partisan positions. One demonstration of this principle is when the former 10th Circuit judge ruled in favor of Colorado’s mandate that its largest utilities get 30% of their power supplies from renewable energy.
Judge Gorsuch is a disciple of the law and he can provide the kind of temperance against rash actions by Trump that all Americans, especially Democrats, desire.