Neil Gorsuch: Such a Good Choice
February 2, 2017
Gorsuch has a sterling legal pedigree. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. He also served as a clerk on the second most important appeals court in the country, in Washington D.C., for conservative Judge David Sentelle.
Like Justice Antonin Scalia, whom he is in line to replace, Gorsuch has cultivated a reputation as a memorable and clear author of legal opinions. . . . Lawyers who practice before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, where Gorsuch currently works, said he is a popular and approachable judge.
For more on his background and legal philosophy, NRO’s Ed Whelan has a great, concise profile:
Gorsuch is a brilliant jurist and dedicated originalist and textualist. He thinks through issues deeply. He writes with clarity, force, and verve. And his many talents promise to give him an outsized influence on future generations of lawyers.
Gorsuch’s judicial outlook is reflected in his beautiful speech (text and video) celebrating — and embracing — Justice Scalia’s traditional understanding of the judicial role and his originalist methodology:
Perhaps the great project of Justice Scalia’s career was to remind us of the differences between judges and legislators. To remind us that legislators may appeal to their own moral convictions and to claims about social utility to reshape the law as they think it should be in the future. But that judges should do none of these things in a democratic society. That 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.
. . . The Constitution itself carefully separates the legislative and judicial powers. Whereas the legislative power is the “power to prescribe new rules of general applicability for the future,” the judicial power is a “means for resolving disputes about what existing law is and how it applies to discrete cases and controversies.” This separation of powers is “among the most important liberty-protecting devices of the constitutional design.” Among other things, if judges were to act as legislators by imposing their preferences as constitutional dictates, “how hard it would be to revise this so-easily-made judicial legislation to account for changes in the world or to fix mistakes.” Indeed, the “very idea of self-government would seem to wither to the point of pointlessness.”
He’s not just a serious originalist; he’s also personally pro-life and otherwise conservative.
In his courageous book The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, he propounds the principles that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Apparently he even wrote a piece for NRO once.
In other words, he’s not a question mark like David Souter—he’s clearly an originalist, a conservative judge, and he’s not going to “evolve” into a leftist on the bench—and he’s also a brilliant thinker and writer who will actually be able to articulate and explain that point of view, and to some extent persuade others.
Finally, no matter what you may or may not hear from Senate Democrats or the biased news media in the coming days or months:
[In 2006, when he was appointed to the federal appeals court, t]he American Bar Association judicial-selection panel unanimously gave Gorsuch its highest rating of well-qualified. The Senate confirmed him unanimously, by voice vote, barely two months after his nomination.