President Donald Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, a federal appellate judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, as the next Supreme Court Justice.
Gorsuch is 49 and could serve on the High Court for many years. His resume includes degrees from Harvard University (J.D.); Columbia University (undergrad); and Oxford University (D. Phil), where he studied Natural Law. His work career includes: 2006 – present, Judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit; 2005 – 2006, U.S. Dept. of Justice, deputy attorney; 1995 – 2005, private practice; 1993 – 1994, Law Clerk, U.S. Supreme Court, Justice Byron White, and Justice Anthony Kennedy; and 1991 – 1992, Law Clerk, U.S. Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, J. David Sentelle.
Gorsuch wrote a book titled, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. One quoted portion of the book states: “Human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
He sided with the state of Utah’s defunding of Planned Parenthood, and he supported the religious liberty arguments against forced abortion mandates under ObamaCare in Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor.
Gorsuch wrote two pieces relevant to the proper role of judges. The first is an opinion for National Review in 2005 on the subject of Judicial Activism. He states:
This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there’s little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs–real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce–are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers’ arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide.
At the same time, the politicization of the judiciary undermines the only real asset it has–its independence. Judges come to be seen as politicians and their confirmations become just another avenue of political warfare. Respect for the role of judges and the legitimacy of the judiciary branch as a whole diminishes. The judiciary’s diminishing claim to neutrality and independence is exemplified by a recent, historic shift in the Senate’s confirmation process. Where trial-court and appeals-court nominees were once routinely confirmed on voice vote, they are now routinely subjected to ideological litmus tests, filibusters, and vicious interest-group attacks. It is a warning sign that our judiciary is losing its legitimacy when trial and circuit-court judges are viewed and treated as little more than politicians with robes.
A few weeks after Scalia’s passing in 2016, Gorsuch gave a lecture that details his judicial interpretation philosophy and honors Justice Scalia. This excellent article is something similar to what Professor Robert George and Justice Scalia would write:
Respectfully, it seems to me an assiduous focus on text, structure, and history is essential to the proper exercise of the judicial function. That, yes, judges should be in the business of declaring what the law is using the traditional tools of interpretation, rather than pronouncing the law as they might wish it to be in light of their own political views, always with an eye on the outcome, and engaged perhaps in some Benthamite calculation of pleasures and pains along the way. Though the critics are loud and the temptations to join them may be many, mark me down too as a believer that the traditional account of the judicial role Justice Scalia defended will endure.
“It’s time to return this country back to the rule of law where judges interpret the original meaning of the Constitution and the laws before them,” said Mat Staver, Founder and Chairman of Liberty Counsel.
“Judicial activism is destroying the judiciary and will ultimately weaken the role of the judicial in the eyes of the people. The only power that courts have is the trust of the people that judges will act fairly and put aside personal bias. From the Supreme Court to the state courts, the role of judges is to judge fairly. If they want to be legislators, then let them run for office. Judicial activism has no place on the bench,” Staver concluded.
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