After Associate Justice Antonin Scalia died in 2015, the Republican Party was concerned about the replacement. Replacing the conservative judge who concluded that the Constitution was “not a living document" was alarming. Some apprehensions were alleviated for the GOP when President Donald Trump tapped Neil Gorsuch.
"Hope you like my nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court. He is a good and brilliant man, respected by all," Trump Tweeted.
With a sparkling resume, Gorsuch still has a fight on his hands, regardless of Trump's glowing endorsement. Gorsuch, an American federal appellate judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, will go through the process of the Senate confirmations and will have to prove himself worthy to cynical Democrats.
“He has grabbed every brass ring,” said David Lat, managing editor of the legal website Above the Law in an interview with the Denver Post. “He’s brilliant, conservative and impossible to oppose. That’s a deadly combination for Democrats.” Even so, here is what you should know about Neil Gorsuch who could be elected to the high court.
He has an outstanding resume.A graduate of Harvard, Oxford and Columbia, Gorsuch was the partner of the law firm Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel in Washington. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He was appointed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in 2006, by President W. George Bush. It was Bush's fifth appointment to the Tenth Circuit. Gorsuch cruised through his last appointment but won't experience the same speedy process as Democrats vowed to challenge Gorsuch's nomination.
He is a proponent of textualism.Gorsuch is a champion of textualism in statutory interpretation and originalism in interpreting the U.S. Constitution. He believes in an “originalist” interpretation of the Constitution. During his speech at Case Western Reserve University, a private research university in Ohio, he said that there is a difference between judges and legislators. Judges “should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views. ”
He went to school with Barack Obama.Gorsuch and Barack Obama both graduated from Harvard Law School in 1991 and they were in the same graduating class. Former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Norm Eisen was also a classmate and mentioned that Twitter that Gorsuch would be a great pick. "Hearing rumors Trump's likely Supreme Court pick is Neil Gorsuch, my 1991 Harvard Law classmate. If so, a great guy," he Tweeted leading up to the nomination.
He acknowledged his imperfections.Standing with his wife Louise after accepting the nomination, Gorsuch said that he's "acutely aware of my own imperfections, I pledge that if I am confirmed I will do all my powers permit to be a faithful servant of the Constitution and laws of this great country." He said it is the job of judges to apply the law, not to alter the law. He continued to explain that a judge who agrees with all outcomes is a bad judge.
He wrote a book.
Gorsuch wrote a book called The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia in 2006. It is an overview of the ethical and legal issues raised by assisted suicide and euthanasia. “All human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong,” he wrote.
He supported Hobby Lobby.Gorsuch supported Hobby Lobby and the Sisters of the Poor in their claim that the provision in the Affordable Care Act stipulates that employers have to pay for employees contraception. This infringes on religious freedom. Gorsuch was in the 5-3 majority that sided with Hobby Lobby and Sisters of the Poor. The case moved to the Supreme Court where it was decided that family-owned business can opt out of the Affordable Care Act if they have religious objections.
He worked as an adjunct.Gorsuch was an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Law School and taught Legal Ethics and Professionalism since 2012. He was praised for by liberal students for this demeanor and fairness. The Denver Post reported that student Jordan Henry was impressed by Gorsuch. “I think he’s dedicated to the truth, to justice, to the justice system. 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.”
Senator Bernie Sanders is not a fan."Judge Gorsuch must explain his hostility to women's rights, support of corporations over workers and opposition to campaign finance reform," Sanders Tweeted. The comment stems from Gorsuch's ruling in the Hobby Lobby case. The longest independent senator from Vermont is concerned about Gorsuch's thoughts on reproductive rights and campaign finance reform.
He called out Trump.Gorsuch found that the attacks made by Trump on judges to be "disheartening and demoralizing," according to published reports. Trump blasted the courts for being too political regarding the travel ban he issued by executive order to protect the nation from potential terrorist threats. The travel ban case is pending before a San Francisco-based appeals court. "The courts seem to be political," Trump told a group of sheriffs and police officers.
He quotes Winston Churchill.Gorsuch is known to have a reservoir of Winston Churchill quotes he likes to use. One quote, in particular, might be suitable for the Colorado native. Although he never reportedly used the following quote, it's appropriate. "You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life." The nominee is expected to meet opposition for standing on his principles. Don't be surprised if Democrats delay Gorsuch's nomination and use it as a bargaining chip because of Trump's obnoxious immigration order.
Gorsuch is keenly aware of what is at stake if he is confirmed, especially when it comes to religious freedom. He once said that the law doesn’t apply to protect only the popular religious beliefs. "It does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance."