By Christa St. George
On January 31, 2017, Neil Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump to fill the vacated seat on the Supreme Court, following the passing of Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016.The vacant seat on the Supreme Court has been a hotly contested issue for the past year. While President Obama attempted to appoint Chief Judge Garland to this seat prior to leaving office, Senate Republicans steadfastly refused to confirm the nominee or consider his appointment. With the 52 seat majority of Senate Republicans, their efforts created a year-long stalemate over the appointment of the 9th Supreme Court seat—the second longest stalemate since the 1860’s.
Political ascriptions in the Supreme Court are currently split 4-4. With his Conservative views, Gorsuch is projected to swing the Court to the right, leaving the swing vote, again, to Justice Anthony M. Kennedy. The gravity of importance placed upon Gorsuch’s appointment, therefore, cannot be overstated.
The 49-year old Judge and Colorado native currently serves on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Denver. Upon his appointment to the Court of Appeals by George W. Bush in 2006, the American Bar Association regarded him as “unanimously well qualified” for the position. Similar to other Justices, Gorsuch has obtained degrees from various Ivy League Schools, including Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and the University of Oxford. He served as a legal clerk for Anthony M. Kennedy, Byron R. White, and Judge David B. Sentelle of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
Despite his general likability and reputation as an approachable judge and distinguished writer, Senate Democrats remain skeptical of his lack of experience as well as failure to provide concise opinions on relevant and/or controversial issues. Critics argue that his rulings in past cases make him likely to rule in favor of right-wing Conservatives, including President Trump and his policies. Those in strong opposition to the nominee’s appointment question his capacity to remain impartial to political ties, including President Trump and the Republican Party’s hardline conservative values.
What do we know about his political, social, and economic inclinations as a Judge?
Gorsuch, like his potential predecessor, maintains an “originalist” perspective on interpreting the Constitution; i.e. he maintains a strict, “textualized” perspective on law and legality. This predisposition frames Gorsuch’s opinions of the following topics:
While these are just a few of the strongly disputed issues circulating in the American government and courts, they provide evidence that suggest Neil Gorsuch’s potential rulings as a Supreme Court Judge. Overall, we can expect a textual, strict interpreter of the Constitution. In other words, Gorsuch will likely serve as a similar judge to Scalia. Critics argue that this interpretation is both outdated and in opposition to the social, political, and economic progress of the nation. How will the Judge’s textual interpretation of the Constitution frame the issues listed above, as well as future Supreme Court rulings? Time will tell.
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