Lanterns: Antonin Scalia Would Be Proud as President Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch


Antonin Scalia Would Be Proud as President Trump Nominates Neil Gorsuch

Check another campaign promise off the list!

Neil Gorsuch is a rock solid Conservative with the record to prove it.  He's someone Antonin Scalia would definitely approve of.  Like Scalia, Gorsuch is known for deciding cases based on the meaning of the Constitution as the text was originally understood. 

David Feder, who clerked for Judge Gorsuch stated:

"Many lawyers know Judge Gorsuch as one of the most talented writers on the federal bench.  His law clerks, friends, and family also know that he is also a thoroughly decent person, a family man wholly devoted to his wife and two daughters.  Someone who treats everyone with respect.  He seemed to know everyone in the courthouse and, on many occasions, our trip back from lunch was detoured with a long conversation with someone who worked in the building (often swapping stories about fishing—one of the judge’s favorite pastimes).

What some may not know, however, is his deep commitment to the original understanding of the constitution and the rule of law.  As Adam Feldman of Empirical SCOTUS puts it, “he regularly uses originalist principles in his decisions” and thus merits classification “as a heavy originalist based on the originalist indicators in his decisions.”  He not only faithfully applies originalist methodology but articulately explains why our constitutional design remains relevant—and critical—over two hundred years later.  If the President-elect’s goal is to replace Justice Scalia with someone who will carry the flag of originalism and teach it to the next generation through engaging opinions, public speeches (see, e.g.,Law’s IronyandOf Lions and Bears, Judges and Legislators), and the honest hard work it requires, the choice is Judge Gorsuch.

I know the judge’s commitment to originalist principles first hand.  Whenever a constitutional issue came up in our cases, he sent one of his clerks on a deep dive through the historical sources.  “We need to get this right,” was the motto—and right meant “as originally understood.”  I can think of no one better to carry on Justice Scalia’s legacy and, in the words of Justice Thomas, “to stand firm in the defense of the constitutional principles and structure that secure our liberty.”

The U.S. Supreme Court has the power of judicial review. The court acts as a check on the executive and legislative powers to decide if a law or executive order is constitutional. However, today the court has become more of an "activist" court, legislating from the bench rather than interpreting the Constitution.  At Justice Scalia's funeral, Judge Gorsuch had this to say on his view of legal interpretation:

"Judges should instead strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best. As Justice Scalia put it, “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. If you like them all the time, you’re probably doing something wrong.”

Gorsuch, 49, is best known for upholding religious liberty rights in the legal battles over Obamacare by refusing to exempt religious employers from a requirement to cover contraceptives in their insurance plans.  

Catholic groups like the Little Sisters of the Poor and the evangelical Christian family who owned the Hobby Lobby craft stores sued and sought a religious exemption from paying for contraceptives that they said could “destroy a fertilized human egg."

Both cases ended up in the 10th Circuit, and Gorsuch voiced support for the religious claimants.

“All of us face the problem of complicity,” he wrote in the Hobby Lobby case. And government should not force people with “sincerely held religious beliefs” to be complicit in “conduct their religion teaches them to be gravely wrong.”

Judge Gorsuch currently serves on the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver and was a former clerk for Colorado native, Justice Byron White, and Justice Anthony M. Kennedy

Gorsuch's confirmation should be an easy one considering he won Senate confirmation on a voice vote in 2006. However, I'm sure there will be crying and wailing and gnashing of teeth from the left.  We'll be told he's the most radical ANTI-EVERYTHING who has ever been nominated, and that he will single-handedly strip every person of his or her rights.  There will be more protests, and Democrat Senators will perform Kabuki Theater on the floor of the Senate as they pledge to obstruct his nomination with their last dying breaths. Count on it!

Written by Heather Bryant

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