IGNORE THE ATTACKS ON NEIL GORSUCH

March 14th, 2017

Pray for Judge Gorsuch and the Senate Judiciary Committee; may they do what is right and what is God’s will for our nation.

Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. (Ps. 106:3)

Although there were notable exceptions, Donald Trump famously lost the conservative intelligentsia — and went on to do quite well electorally without us. But conservative scholars will, I predict, be virtually unanimous in their praise of the president’s choice of Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit to succeed Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. I know firsthand why: Gorsuch’s combination of outstanding intellectual and personal qualities places him in the top rank of American jurists. If confirmed, as I expect him easily to be, he will certainly be a good justice and has the potential to be a great one.

Gorsuch and I have worked together on academic projects, most notably when I was the editor of the Princeton University Press book series for which he wrote “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” — an impressive, deeply scholarly book that was praised by bioethicists (including the liberal Daniel Callahan and the conservative John Keown) as well as academic lawyers — in 2006. The book critically engages the work of scholars (including myself) across a range of disciplines and representing a spectrum of viewpoints. Gorsuch went the extra mile in ensuring that his treatment of the work of other writers — especially those with whom he disagrees — was sympathetic and impeccably accurate. His sheer fair-mindedness was the thing I found most striking about working with him.

When it comes to fitness for judicial office, the first criterion usually considered is intellect and education, and here Gorsuch is off the charts. Even people who do not share his political outlook or judicial philosophy, but have read his judicial opinions, recognize him as an intellectual superstar. Anyone who has heard him speak, and especially anyone who has spoken with him, probably has had that impression strongly reinforced. His opinions are marked by analytical depth and precision and remarkably lucid writing.

In selecting Gorsuch, President Trump has without question fulfilled his pledge to appoint a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia — a conservative intellectual leader. Even those of us who refused to get on the Trump train after his nomination have to acknowledge that. But one respect in which Gorsuch is unlike Scalia is that he is not fiery or pugnacious. Rather, his demeanor is scholarly — one might even say bookish. He is not a fierce debater. I recall being with him at an academic conference at which a graduate student contradicted and challenged a comment he had made. Far from bristling or even returning fire, he encouraged the student to develop her argument further, graciously acknowledging merit in the point she had made.

Likewise in the courtroom, he does not interrogate, much less intimidate, the lawyers who appear before him. It is truer to say that he engages them in conversations that enable him to explore the strengths and weaknesses of arguments advanced in their written briefs or address issues he thinks are important but that did not receive sufficient attention in those submissions.

Of course, most people are interested above all in how he is likely to vote on hot-button issues such as abortion, same-sex marriage, gun control, campaign finance reform and religious freedom. In the confirmation hearings, he will no doubt do what another friend of mine, Justice Elena Kagan, did and basically refuse to discuss these issues on the ground that they are likely to come before him. I expect what just about everyone else expects: Gorsuch, who greatly admired Scalia, thinks about the constitutional issues in these areas pretty much the same way Scalia did.

Orthodox conservatives believe that the Constitution should be interpreted in a way that is faithful to the text and guided, where the text is less than perfectly clear in its application to a question, by the original understanding of its framers and ratifiers. Gorsuch, like Scalia — and like every other judge who was on Trump’s list of 21 — is a textualist and an originalist. But he is not dogmatic, and his credentials help explain why.

After studying at Columbia University and Harvard Law School, Gorsuch earned a doctorate from Oxford University, where he was supervised by John Finnis, an internationally acclaimed philosopher of law and a theorist of natural law and natural rights. He won both a Truman Scholarship and a Marshall Scholarship, two of the most prestigious scholarships in American higher education. After completing his education, Gorsuch clerked for Appeals Court Judge David Sentelle, and then for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony M. Kennedy. He spent a year in the Justice Department and then a decade in the private practice of law with a distinguished firm. He has served on the 10th Circuit since 2006. His record bespeaks intellect and perseverance — although Gorsuch is, nonetheless, remarkably approachable.

If Democrats are looking for a point of vulnerability in either Gorsuch’s integrity or impartiality, they won’t find it. He is basically a Boy Scout. He’s a faithful husband, a good father, a caring neighbor, a generous friend, a man of probity who holds himself to the highest ethical standards. Oh, and he will bring religious diversity to a Court that is entirely Catholic and Jewish: He’s an Episcopalian.

Gorsuch will be a hard man to depict as a ferocious partisan or an ideological judge, which isn’t to say he won’t be described this way by ideologically partisan critics for whom the prospect of a conservative intellectual giant on the Supreme Court is anything but welcome. As Gorsuch himself has frequently observed, including in a widely noted tribute to Scalia, good judges sometimes have to vote or rule in ways they do not like — because that is what the law requires. Indeed, he noted, if a judge does not sometimes find himself voting or ruling against his own personal beliefs about politics or morality, as Scalia himself famously did in holding that the desecration of the American flag is political expression protected by the First Amendment, that is a sure sign that he is failing to do justice according to law. In a democracy, the law never lines up perfectly with anyone’s political and moral beliefs. And it is to the law that judges have sworn a sacred oath of fidelity. (Contributor: By Robert P. George for The Washington Post)

9 Responses to “IGNORE THE ATTACKS ON NEIL GORSUCH”

  1. Betty davis says:

    How blessed are those who keep justice, who practice righteousness at all times! Psalm 106:3 in Jesus holy name! Amen

  2. Dessie Dennie Young says:

    Father God Supreme Justice of the Universe we ask You give Ypur Wisdom to those who are charged with confirming Justice Gorsuch.

  3. W. Striegel says:

    Yes, LORD we ask in name of Your loving Son Jesus for Your hand on each of those selecting and confirming those who interprets the laws of our country, that they do it by the commandments You have provided in Your Word. Thank You LORD for alway guiding us and directing us for we know You will prosper those who follow Your direction not harm.

  4. M. Ednie says:

    Thank God you all have put this together. This is exactly what our Country has been needing. Your leadership in this is so very welcomed and so very timely. I can’t thank you enough and Praise God for you and all you are doing for all of us.

    Keep it up. God will be with us all and bring more on board to realize this is the required prescription this Country needs to get back on track to what our Founders brought forth here in the United States of America. We must lead the way forall mankind to live in peace and love.

  5. Marlene Babb says:

    I am praying everyday as well for our president, vice president, families and all the administration..God Almighty will rule and reign in America. We be established on the principles of in God do we trust. The kingdom of this world become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ. He will rule and reign.

  6. Gladys Barnes says:

    Thank you for making this and a prayer guide how to pray for Gorsuch and all the other cabinet members. This will be truly helpful and appreciated. I am praying for everybody: President, V. President, their staff, cabinet members and their families. I pray that I have not left any body else.
    Thank you. Gladys Barnes

  7. j says:

    i pray for all the people of this country and Earth, please Lord, help us to serve You, always.

  8. Wanda says:

    Good article

  9. Elisabeth King says:

    I shall pray for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination.
    Please send me a paper that lists all current cabinet appointees — names, departments, etc. so that I can pray for each on a regular basis. I do pray for the President and Vice President regularly, of course. E. King

    I am already receiving your monthly newsletter.
    Thank you and God bless you, E. King

Leave a Reply