Opinions

Neil Gorsuch for Supreme Court

     The loss of Justice Scalia was a devastating blow to the nation last year. He brought a conservative disposition, prudent intelligence and incisive wit to bear on complex cases argued before the United States Supreme Court. President Trump’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch, seems like a great fit to replace Justice Scalia.

     Gorsuch’s level of education is stellar. He went to a Jesuit-run high school before attending Columbia for his B.A., Harvard Law for his J.D. and Oxford University for his D.Phil., where he studied under the mentorship of natural law theorist John Finnis. Equally commendable is Gorsuch’s legal philosophy which is very similar to Scalia’s. Gorsuch is an originalist, meaning that he believes we ought to interpret the Constitution as close to the original intent of the authors as possible. In his words, “ours is the job of interpreting the Constitution, and that document isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams.” In addition, Gorsuch is highly critical of the relatively recent trend to defer to the Courts to solve social policy debates rather than letting the legislative branches work things out on the state and federal levels. In an article for National Review in 2005, he writes to condemn the “overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy,” noting that such an approach is “bad for the country and bad for the judiciary.” He also notes that “the politicization of the judiciary undermines the only real asset it has—its independence.” At a time when principled conservatives are suspicious of President Trump’s pragmatism, Gorsuch’s commitment to the independence of the judiciary is a breath of fresh air, reminding us all of the beauty of the checks and balances built into our system.

     It isn’t just conservatives like myself who are pleased with the nomination of Gorsuch. Writing for the New York Times, Neil Katyal, an acting solicitor general for President Obama, urged liberals like himself to support the nomination. He even writes  the following regarding Gorsuch: “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.” Katyal notes that he disagrees politically with Gorsuch on a good many issues, and yet he recognizes Gorsuch to be a man of character, possessing the necessary qualities to serve his nation well on the Supreme Court.

     Robert P. George, McCormick Professor of Jurisprudence and director of the James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions at Princeton University, gives an excellent summary of who the Court would be gaining if the nomination goes through. Gorsuch, he writes, is “a faithful husband, a good father, a caring neighbor and a generous friend.” While Gorsuch’s academic credentials and conservative philosophy inspire much confidence, it is ultimately this commendation stating that he is indeed a genuinely good man that gives me the greatest reason to celebrate his nomination.

     Sources: National Review, New York Times, Washington Post

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