Home » Advice & Consent 22: Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Advice & Consent 22: Nominee Neil Gorsuch

Donald Trump has named Judge Neil Gorsuch for the SCOTUS vacancy. On this special edition, our initial impressions…

Neil Gorsuch nominateed to SCOTUS

Neil Gorsuch is a judge on the Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit, which sits in Denver. He was approved on a voice vote in 2006.

He is a graduate of Columbia, Harvard and Oxford, and clerked for Judge Sentelle on the DC Circuit and Supreme Court Justices White and Kennedy.

He’s best known for:

  • Being a conservative intellectual (wrote a book on conservative legal reasoning)
  • An expansive view on freedom of religion (Hobby Lobby)
  • A position of less deference to federal agencies (suggesting Chevron should be reconsidered)
  • Approving strip-searching of detainees arrested for any crime.
  • Originalism –  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—not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best.” (Speech at Case Western)
  • He’s into the dormant commerce clause – more in that on Thursday
  • Opposition to right-to-die; almost certainly anti-choice on abortion

SIDEBAR… however, Andrew Schlafly—son of the late Phyllis Schlafly and president of the Legal Center for the Defense of Life—indicated that Gorsuch “won’t be pro-life on the bench … because he doesn’t invoke the term ‘unborn child’ in his decisions or public comments.”

  • Favors state rights over federal control
  • A reliable conservative not above a little liberal bashing:

Gorsuch has attacked “American liberals” for what he said was an over-reliance on constitutional litigation. He asserted that liberals’ “overweening addiction to the courtroom” negatively affects public policy by aggrandizing the courts and consequently dampening “social experimentation” by the legislative branches.

  • Judge Gorsuch is an avid outdoorsman and doesn’t tweet. That’s Willett’s bag.
  • Trivia: son of the late Anne Gorsuch, administrator of EPA under Reagan. Not exactly beloved by the environmental community, and the first agency director to be found in contempt of Congress. 

Initial thoughts?

Adam: What happens depends on whether Democrats see this as the Scalia seat or the Garland seat.  There’s no reason to have a big fight over the Scalia seat.  There’s a big reason to have a big fight over the Garland seat.  We’re going to hear Garland’s name mentioned as much as Gorsuch’s over the next few months.  Don’t think Democrats are going to be able to duck the fight even if they want to.

Tim: a lot to talk about. You’ll hear a lot about Chevron and Hobby Lobby. The whole thing may boil down to whether President Trump and – perhaps more importantly – Mitch McConnell are ready to burn the Senate to the ground over this seat. The vast majority of the Dems feel principled that the treatment Garland and Obama got was out of bounds, and won’t lift a proverbial finger to confirm someone in that slot.

Process for the next few weeks

Coming Thursday…

More on Judge Neil Gorsuch

More on scheduled hearings and early reactions to the nomination

The prospect of filibuster and the nuclear option