Rutecki: Why Neil Gorsuch would make a great Supreme Court Justice
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Antonin Scalia’s death raised the stakes of the 2016 presidential election significantly. Since Republicans refused to hold a hearing for then-President Barack Obama’s nominee, Merrick Garland, President Donald Trump now has the chance to nominate a justice to fill the vacancy.
Trump’s choice? Neil Gorsuch. A Supreme Court nominee who will bring a brilliant legal mind and fearless commitment to D.C. He has a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University, acquired a law degree from Harvard University as a Truman Scholar, and earned his doctorate in Legal Philosophy from the University of Oxford. He clerked for U.S. Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, and was confirmed to the U.S. Court of Appeals as a Federal Judge in 2006 by a unanimous, bipartisan Senate vote.
However, his confirmation has been anything but fair. Democratic politicians refuse to vote for him, just as the Republican Senate did not vote to confirm Merrick Garland. But the fact is, they were not legally obligated to hold a vote. While some question the morality of the Republican Senate’s delay tactics in 2016, I would argue that they had a moral obligation to do everything in their power to represent the constituents who elected them. Look no further than to Joe Biden for a rationale to delay a Supreme Court pick. In 1992 as a senator, Biden said it was “essential” that President George H.W. Bush delay filing a Supreme Court vacancy until the next presidential election was over.
While many Democrats are opposed to Gorsuch now, several of these same congressmen supported Gorsuch in his confirmation to the U.S. Court of Appeals. Even Chuck Schumer, who recently said he has “serious doubts” about Gorsuch, voted for him in this nomination. This impressive bipartisan endorsement is a testament to Gorsuch’s stellar legal qualifications.
After Gorsuch expressed his firm commitment to being unbiased in his confirmation hearing I cannot understand why Chuck Schumer or any other Democratic politician would have “serious doubts” about Gorsuch, especially of his ability to serve as an independent check on President Donald Trump’s power.
For instance, when Trump tweeted about the “so-called judge” who blocked his administration’s travel ban, Gorsuch fought back. Gorsuch called the tweet’s baseless attack of a federal judge “disheartening” and “demoralizing.” Gorsuch also stated that he has no problem ruling against the President who appointed him, saying, “no man is above the law.”
On hot-button issues like abortion, Gorsuch always stays true to the law. When Senator Lindsey Graham asked Gorsuch if Trump ever asked him to overturn Roe v. Wade, Gorsuch forcefully responded, “No… I would have walked out the door.”
Even if I was a liberal, I believe I would still want Gorsuch on the bench because he will not allow Trump, or anyone else, to compromise his rulings.
Neil Gorsuch is a worthy replacement of the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Like Scalia, Gorsuch adheres to the legal philosophy of originalism. Scalia described this interpretation as treating the Constitution as a “dead” document, meaning not what current society thinks but what it meant when it was adopted. Gorsuch quoted Scalia in a 2016 speech at CWRU’s law school: “If you’re going to be a good and faithful judge, you have to resign yourself to the fact that you’re not always going to like the conclusions you reach.”
One of the best ways to judge a person’s character is from the opinions of people who know them. As an adjunct law professor at the University of Colorado (CU), Gorsuch is praised by his students. According to the Denver Post, “He [Gorsuch] is widely respected among his peers, colleagues and students at Boulder, who describe him as brilliant, thoughtful and charming.”
In the Denver Post, CU law student Jordan Henry added, “I may not always agree with him but I do think he gives all voices a fair hearing, and that’s all you can ask of a judge.”
Although Neil Gorsuch is not found on ratemyprofessors.com, I trust the students at CU made the right call.