The Senate is set to take up the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch this week, and given the level of collegiality coursing through today’s political discourse, expect plenty of overheated rhetoric.
Many Democrats are girding for revenge following the unprecedented refusal last year of Republicans to consider Barack Obama’s selection to fill the vacancy created with the death of Antonin Scalia. But as they say, elections have consequences. The GOP was able to block Merrick Garland because Senate Democrats lost big at the ballot box in 2014. Likewise, Democrats botched a chance to retake the chamber last year. And thanks to Harry Reid’s decision to blow up long-standing Senate rules to pack the federal appeals courts, they will now have little recourse if Mitch McConnell turns the tables.
But other than pure politics, there’s little reason to oppose Donald Trump’s nominee. Judge Gorsuch is eminently qualified and has drawn support from across the ideological spectrum. He received a unanimous “well-qualified” rating from the American Bar Association, hardly a bastion of right-wing extremism.
Jonathan Adler, a law professor who contributes to The Volokh Conspiracy blog, noted last week that while “progressive activists may be itching for a fight … many progressive attorneys and legal experts recognize the merits of the Gorsuch nomination.” A letter from 50 of the nominee’s Harvard classmates cites the group’s diversity — “we are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and independents … married, single and divorced; men and women; straight and gay” — and concludes that Judge Gorsuch “possesses the exemplary character, outstanding intellect, steady temperament, humility and open-mindedness to be an excellent” U.S. Supreme Court justice.
This won’t calm left-wing partisans. The New York Times reported last week that “Democrats have zeroed in on their most prominent planned line of attack: Gorsuch’s rulings have favored the powerful and well connected.”
It’s worth noting that progressives offer no allegations that Judge Gorsuch has ignored the Constitution or failed to properly apply the protections enshrined in the Bill of Rights. Instead, their main objection appears to be that he didn’t deliver the outcomes they sought in a handful of cases. That’s hardly a rational reason to reject a highly qualified nominee.
The composition of the U.S. Supreme Court was a primary issue in the 2016 election, touching not only the presidential contest but on Senate races, too. The voters spoke loudly and clearly. Judge Neil Gorsuch should be confirmed.