Monday’s confirmation of Associate Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch represents one of the highest points of the Trump presidency to date. Justice Gorsuch’s nomination, and subsequent confirmation, was marked with opposition, culminating in Senate Republicans’ historic decision to trigger the “nuclear option,” overriding Democrats with a simple majority, as opposed to the 60-vote supermajority previously needed.
By fulfilling his promise to nominate and confirm a conservative judge to the Supreme Court, Trump and the Republican Party were able to rally their base after a failed effort to finally repeal and replace Obamacare left their constituents feeling deflated. However, this is a victory not only for the GOP, but for Americans on all sides of the political spectrum.
A judge who follows an originalist interpretation of the Constitution (rather than basing their decisions off of partisan or personal views) should be an affront to no one. Because the judiciary is responsible for interpreting our laws, we should welcome judges who base their decisions on the most fundamental document of this great nation into our highest court.
Of course, Gorsuch was frequently criticized by the left for not giving enough definitive answers in his confirmation hearings. However, it is unfair to expect any judge to preemptively rule on hypothetical cases solely to please political players. In fact, this has been dubbed the “RBG tactic” after the left’s favorite liberal justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Which brings us to perhaps the most jarring part of this nomination battle: the blatant hypocrisy from both sides. When Republicans blocked Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland, Democrats were (rightfully) appalled. However, for these same Democrats to then support Senator Chuck Schumer’s calls for obstruction is absurd. Their claim that Gorsuch is filling a “stolen seat” is brought about not by some sense of duty, but is a result of the party’s collectively hurt pride.
Aside from the simple fact that that seat would have never been open had a justice not died, let us not forget that Vice President Joe Biden’s infamous 1992 stance against lame duck nominations set the stage for Republicans’ central argument.
Regardless, supporting the obstruction of a constitutional duty just because it agrees with your political agenda is unacceptable, no matter which party did it first. It was wrong when Republicans did it in 2016, and it was just as wrong when the Democrats tried to do it as well.
Democrats also insist that the Republicans’ tactics were unprecedented, when that is categorically untrue. Was it historical? Of course. But it certainly wasn’t the first time this has happened. The nuclear option has been weighed as a tactic since the early 20th century, and was used quite extensively in 2013 to confirm 20 Obama-appointed judges to U.S. District Courts.
Of course, the Supreme Court and district courts are very different (both in their nature and in their status), but for Democrats to call the use of the nuclear option unprecedented simply because they find it unfavorable is as inaccurate as it is hypocritical.
Politically speaking, it makes little sense for Democrats to have engaged in this endeavor at all. Of course, calling Gorsuch a moderate is a stretch, but it is foolish for Democrats to assume that Trump’s next pick would’ve been less conservative. As Democrats must have learned by now, the short-term gain of a temporarily rallied base surely does not make up for their long-term political miscalculation.
Politics aside, Gorsuch deserves to be given, above all else, a chance.
Democrats can, and should, take comfort in the fact that he (albeit privately) spoke out against Trump – despite having been nominated by him – for his attacks on U.S. District Judge Gonzalo Curiel, calling the president’s attacks “disheartening” and “demoralizing.”
They should take comfort in the fact that he accepts Roe v. Wade (one of the most contentious Supreme Court rulings in modern political discourse) as “the law of the land” and shows no indication of overturning it.
And they should take comfort in the fact that Gorsuch routinely sided with the “little guy” and has remained quite moderate on both immigration and discrimination cases – even if he has a conservative record elsewhere.
In fact, once you sift through all the partisan bickering and abstention, it is easy to see why Gorsuch will be a great addition to the Supreme Court, and how his respect for both legal precedent and the constitution is a service to all Americans.
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