Sen. John Thune
After Judge Neil Gorsuch’s recent confirmation hearing, there isn’t a doubt in my mind that he is the right person to replace the late Justice Scalia on the Supreme Court. His resume is impeccable. He graduated from Harvard Law School and Oxford University. He clerked for two Supreme Court justices, including Anthony Kennedy who still serves on the Supreme Court today. He worked in private practice and at the Justice Department. And for the last decade, he’s served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals where he’s been widely regarded as a brilliant and thoughtful jurist.
While Judge Gorsuch’s experience makes him exceedingly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court, I’m particularly encouraged by the fact that he understands his role as a judge. While he might personally dislike certain laws written by Congress and signed by the president, he knows that it’s his job to interpret the law. He’s a judge, not a legislator. He truly believes that it’s his responsibility to call balls and strikes, not rewrite the rules of the game. It’s that kind of judicial philosophy that benefits the American people, and I think it’s the kind of judge most Americans want on the bench.
It’s because of his experience and judicial philosophy that Judge Gorsuch is supported by people from both ends of the political spectrum. For example, Neal Katyal, acting solicitor general for President Obama, said, “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.”
Despite all of his experience and respect among his peers, nothing will be good enough for a vast majority of Senate Democrats who seem increasingly determined to stand in the way of his nomination only because he’s been nominated by a Republican president. Without anything substantial to point to, they are coming up with some pretty creative reasons why they won’t support his nomination. Everything from not agreeing with certain rulings (who agrees with a judge’s every ruling?) to asserting that he’s out of the judicial mainstream, which is just laughable.
If Judge Gorsuch is out of the mainstream, why did both of his home-state senators – one a Republican and one a Democrat – support his nomination when he was appointed to the 10th Circuit? Why did the current minority leader, a Democrat, raise no objection to the nomination? And why did then-Sens. Obama, Biden, or Clinton not raise these concerns when Judge Gorsuch sailed through the Senate with unanimous support?
In the ten-plus years since he was confirmed by the Senate, it isn’t Judge Gorsuch who has changed. It’s Senate Democrats who have changed, and it’s purely because they just can’t get over the 2016 election.
I truly hope my Democrat colleagues don’t upend America’s 230-year Supreme Court tradition by denying a nominee a simple majority vote out of bitterness from having lost one election. If Democrats successfully wage the first partisan filibuster of a Supreme Court nominee in American history, they will be setting a dangerous precedent based on shortsighted and misplaced anger. The Senate is better than that. I hope my colleagues abandon this approach and confirm Judge Gorsuch, because there is every reason to support him.