On Tuesday, Trump nominated US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Judge Neil Gorsuch to fill the Supreme Court seat left vacant after Antonin Scalia’s mid-February 2016 death, saying, “When Justice Scalia passed away suddenly last February, I made a promise to the American people: If I were elected president, I would find the very best judge in the country for the Supreme Court.”
“I promised to select someone who respects our laws and is representative of our Constitution and who loves our Constitution and someone who will interpret them as written.”
Gorsuch earned a BA at Columbia University, a JD at Harvard Law School (graduating in the same class as Obama), and a PhD in Law from Oxford.
His mother, Anne Gorsuch Burford, served as Reagan’s EPA administrator from May 1981–March 1983.
Gorsuch is a constitutional originalist, believing law interpretation should be consistent with its original meaning.
He opposes all forms of assisted suicide, twice ruling against the Obamacare contraception mandate, never on abortion.
In 2009, his book titled “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” argued against both practices, morally and legally, saying. “[I]t is an argument premised on the idea that all human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong”—showing where he’ll likely stand on abortion if a Roe v. Wade challenge reaches the High Court.
In Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby Stores (later Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores before the Supreme Court), challenging Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate, Gorsuch sided with the company’s sought religious exemption—permitting it to operate according to its religious beliefs.
In Yellowbear v. Lampert, he supported the plaintiff’s right to practice his faith in prison. In Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Loretta Lynch, he said immigration officials exceeded their authority in interpreting cases preceding judicial rulings, especially since courts expressed skepticism about applying a new rule retroactively.
In United States v. Nichols, he criticized the Supreme Court’s “non-delegation doctrine,” relating to limits on how much legislative power Congress can delegate to the Executive Branch.
In Pleasant Grove City v. Summum, he said displaying a Ten Commandments monument in a public part doesn’t obligate government to include other symbols or representations of other religions.
In Energy and Environmental Legal Institute v. Joshua Epel, he argued that Colorado’s renewable energy mandates don’t violate the commerce clause by putting out-of-state coal companies at a disadvantage.
He supports the death penalty in states where it’s legal. He believes statutes should be interpreted literally. He opposes judicial activism, saying cases shouldn’t be decided based on “moral convictions (of judges) or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.”
All high court members, including the recently deceased Antonin Scalia, attended Harvard or Yale law schools. If Gorsuch’s nomination is approved, tradition will remain unchanged. He’s a former Justice Anthony Kennedy law clerk (from 1993–1994.)
Ruth Bader Ginsburg graduated from Columbia Law School after transferring from Harvard.
Gorsuch is a former GW Bush deputy associate attorney general. In 2006, Bush nominated him to serve as a Tenth Circuit judge. From 1995–2005, he practiced law for Kellogg, Huber, Hansen, Todd, Evans & Figel, becoming a partner in 1998.
In private practice, he argued against class action lawsuits by shareholders in Dura Pharmaceuticals v. Broudo. He supports money-controlled elections, calling funds given politicians a “fundamental right.”
Together with Trump when nominated, he called Justice Scalia “a lion of the law,” adding “it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws. It is the role of judges to apply, not alter, the work of the people’s representatives.”
In a 2016 lecture, he said judges should strive “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.”
In an earlier essay, he said “American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
“This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary.”
Since the high court’s 1789 founding, its rulings show allegiance to power, not “we the people.”
Privilege alone matters. The prevailing fiction about America’s founders establishing an egalitarian system representing all citizens equitably is polar opposite reality.
The nation was always ruled by men (more recently including women), not laws. They lie, connive, misinterpret laws, and pretty much do what they please for their own self-interest and powerful constituents.
Michael Parenti calls the Supreme Court America’s “aristocratic branch . . . the activist bastion of laissez-faire capitalism . . . oppos[ing] restrictions on capitalist power, support[ing] restrictions on the civil liberties of persons who agitated against that power.”
America’s Supremes are supremely pro-business, pro-privilege, serving as guardians of entrenched power.
Gorsuch represents business as usual. If confirmed, he’ll almost certainly protect privilege over the general welfare.
Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. His new book as editor and contributor is “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.” Visit his blog at sjlendman.blogspot.com . Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs.