March 28, 2017

Gorsuch Gets Great Reviews


  • At Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation hearing, Democrats tried all of their standard attacks.
  • Nothing worked, and Judge Gorsuch showed why his nomination is so widely supported.
  • Judge Gorsuch will be confirmed to the Supreme Court.

At last week’s confirmation hearings for Judge Neil Gorsuch, Democrats on the Judiciary Committee unsuccessfully tried to create outrage and controversy where none existed.

  • They asked Judge Gorsuch to answer hypothetical questions and questions on issues likely to come before a court. Then they complained when he followed ethics rules and longstanding norms that prohibit judges and nominees from answering these questions.
  • They attacked him for his opinions that went against sympathetic parties. Judge Gorsuch and Republicans on the committee had to remind them that judges swear to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.”
  • They tried to impugn his judicial independence. It was an absurd charge for a judge whose defining issue has been identified as the separation of powers and who has written on the importance of an independent judiciary.
  • The ranking Democrat read a question from a law professor criticizing Judge Gorsuch for subscribing to an originalist legal philosophy. The critique was an odd choice, given that Justice Elena Kagan proclaimed at her confirmation hearing, “we are all originalists.”

Gorsuch Headlines

No matter what partisan smears Democrats threw at Judge Gorsuch, nothing stuck. He showed why two former chief judges of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals – appointed by presidents of both parties – said that he “represents the best of the judicial tradition in our country.” As one board member of the liberal American Constitution Society declared, “there is no principled reason to vote no” on Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation.

Not exactly honest brokers

For Democratic leadership, it didn’t matter that Judge Gorsuch was confirmed to the 10th Circuit by voice vote and received the highest possible rating from the American Bar Association. It didn’t matter that he was as forthcoming as possible during the hearing. It didn’t matter that he clearly explained his mainstream judicial philosophy and how he arrived at all of his rulings. Instead, as Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley said, it’s “pretty clear” that the Democratic leadership is “a no vote in search of a reason to vote that way.”

Democratic leader Chuck Schumer began the year by promising to block anyone the president nominated to fill Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the court. He pledged to fight “tooth and nail” against the nominee and threatened that that Senate Democrats would try their “best to keep the seat open.” So it’s no surprise that Senator Schumer now says he will try to filibuster Judge Gorsuch’s nomination, in response to pressure from far-left groups.

the reviews are great

If Democrats cared about Judge Gorsuch’s record on the bench and his performance at the confirmation hearing, it would be an easy vote to confirm him. A Chicago Tribune editorial noted that Democrats’ “attempts to trip up Gorsuch, revealing deficiencies that might disqualify him, elicited the opposite: unassailable assurances by Gorsuch that he would decide each case on the merits, based on the law as written, applied to the world as it is today.” The Detroit News agreed, saying that Gorsuch proved himself a “deeply knowledgeable nominee who should be confirmed by the Senate.”

Judge Gorsuch’s strong performance at the hearing should be no surprise to anyone who has looked at his career. The American Bar Association survey of those who have worked with and appeared before Gorsuch found that he “enjoys an excellent reputation for integrity and is a person of outstanding character.” Survey respondents described him with words like “brilliant,” “thoughtful,” “intelligent” and “really, really, really smart.” The survey also concluded that “Judge Gorsuch believes strongly in the independence” of the judiciary and predicted “he will be a strong but respectful voice in protecting it.”

These strong statements of support are corroborated by those who know him well. Retired 10th Circuit Chief Judge Deanell Reece Tacha testified that Judge Gorsuch is “the gold standard in public service.” Judge John Kane, from the U.S. District Court for Colorado, commended Gorsuch for “embracing the discipline of the robe, dedicating himself to the separation of powers, and consistently devoting himself to being fair.”

Issue Tag: Judiciary