February 2 2017
Rachel DiCarlo Currie
You can imagine how liberals must be feeling about the Supreme Court. Had Hillary Clinton won the presidency — which she came ever so close to doing — she likely would have replaced the late Justice Antonin Scalia with someone who broadly shared the judicial philosophy of Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, Sotomayor, and Kagan. “For the first time in nearly 50 years,” notes Dylan Matthews of Vox, the Court would have had “a majority of Democratic-appointed justices,” and thus would have moved “appreciably to the left.”
Instead, Donald Trump gets to pick Scalia’s replacement, and he has chosen Tenth Circuit appellate judge Neil Gorsuch.
Conservative legal thinkers were quick to praise the Gorsuch nomination. But so was liberal Georgetown law professor Neal Katyal, who served as both acting solicitor general and principal deputy solicitor general in the Obama administration. (Before that, he was Al Gore’s co-counsel in the 2000 Bush v. Gore case.)
Writing in the New York Times, Katyal describes Gorsuch, with whom he has served on the Federal Appellate Rules Committee, as “an extraordinary judge and man” who would bring “a sense of fairness and decency to the job, and a temperament that suits the nation’s highest court.”
Katyal goes on:
Considerable doubts about the direction of the Supreme Court have emerged among Democrats in recent weeks, particularly given some of the names that have been floated by the administration for possible nomination. With environmental protection, reproductive rights, privacy, executive power and the rights of criminal defendants (including the death penalty) on the court’s docket, the stakes are tremendous. I, for one, wish it were a Democrat choosing the next justice. But since that is not to be, one basic criterion should be paramount: Is the nominee someone who will stand up for the rule of law and say no to a president or Congress that strays beyond the Constitution and laws?
I have no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law. His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence — a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him. . . .
Right about now, the public could use some reassurance that no matter how chaotic our politics become, the members of the Supreme Court will uphold the oath they must take: to “administer justice without respect to persons, and do equal right to the poor and to the rich.” I am confident Neil Gorsuch will live up to that promise.