Scalia’s Legacy Secure in Gorsuch
Scalia’s Legacy Secure in Gorsuch
One year ago the Supreme Court lost its most senior and arguably most influential justice with the death of Antonin Scalia. With the court split ideologically (four conservatives, four liberals and one swing vote), Scalia’s death had the potential to fundamentally shift the court in a liberal direction when President Obama nominated Merrick Garland. Wielding the so-called “Biden rule”, Senate Majority Leader McConnell argued that no Supreme Court nominee should be considered so close to an election and that the voters should decide the future of the Supreme Court.
The voters were clear in their decision about the Supreme Court. Exit polls showed that of the 21% of voters who said the issue most important to their vote was the Supreme Court vacancy, 57% voted for Trump. This was not lost on the President. When unveiling Neil Gorsuch’s nomination, President Trump reminded the nation of his promise to select someone who would interpret laws “as written” and vowed “I am a man of my word.” The President knows for many voters his future electoral prospects hang on getting this decision right.
Based on what we know, this was clearly the right decision. Unlike some of the stealth nominees of the past (former Justice Souter), Gorsuch can be comprehensively assessed from the many opinions he has written over his ten years of service on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. He has demonstrated himself to be every bit the originalist and textualist Scalia was. Senator Mike Lee, a constitutional scholar in his own right, said in a Senate floor speech that after spending “hours upon hours” reading Gorsuch’s opinions he found every single one to be “impeccable” and that the writing was “methodical, careful, [and] studious.” Almost gushingly he declared the decisions are “among the very best” he’s ever read.
Senator Ted Cruz wrote that Judge Gorsuch “mirrors Justice Scalia in that he has a proven track record of honoring the Constitution, following the text of the law, and refraining from imposing his policy preferences from the bench.” He then added that he “couldn’t be happier with his selection.” Senator Rand Paul called Judge Gorsuch “a worthy successor to Justice Scalia, a committed originalist” and “a strong defender of religious liberty and states’ rights.”
This praise from some of the leading Senate conservatives should give Americans assurance that Judge Gorsuch will live up to the legacy of Justice Scalia. With ringing endorsements from The Heritage Foundation and The Federalist Society, Justice Gorsuch will be a bulwark for those who believe the Constitution should be applied as written, not contorted as desired. In fact, one analysis cited by the Heritage Foundation found Judge Gorsuch to be second closest philosophically to Scalia out of 15 of the potential nominees from Trump’s list, behind only Judge Thomas Lee. Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint extolled Judge Gorsuch saying, “he has a clear record that shows he'll follow the Constitution and uphold rule of law.”
Judge Gorsuch wrote in one concurring opinion that the Constitution “isn’t some inkblot on which litigants may project their hopes and dreams…but a carefully drafted text judges are charged with applying according to its original public meaning.” These are words that could have been easily written by Justice Scalia, a friend for whom Judge Gorsuch wept when he learned of his death. This fidelity to the law is exactly what America needs on the highest court in the land. Judge Gorsuch should become Justice Gorsuch as soon as possible.