President Donald Trump’s nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court has sparked a battle in Washington. It shouldn’t.
Gorsuch would occupy a post in the highest court in the land, one that was left vacant by the death a year ago of conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.
Shamefully, former President Barack Obama’s attempts to fill the coveted position with his nominee were thwarted on Capitol hill by the Republican majority. However, let it be known that Congress begrudgingly had approved two of Obama’s previous more liberal leaning nominees for the Supreme Court: Elena Kagan and Sonia Sotomayor.
Now, Obama’s successor, Trump, should have better luck with his high court nominee. Gorsuch has the perfect credentials for the position: he studied at prestigious Harvard and Columbia universities; he has clerked for two Supreme Court justices, and has been a federal judge for many years, plus he hails from the West Coats, unlike all the other justices. Trump made a fine selection.
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As is to be expected, Gorsuch is a conservative, but not an ideological one; he is a constitutional conservative, translated that means a judge well-aware of the role of judges.
As a magistrate, he bases his decisions on the letter of the Constitution without taking into account the positions of the moment in the conservative landscape. Under those guidelines, he could even at some point rule against President Trump’s decisions.
Across the board, those who know him have spoken up in favor of his temperament, knowledge of the law and commitment to judicial independence. He is unlikely to ignore judicial principles to favor the president who appointed him.
In many ways, Gorsuch is the right person to fill the post that Scalia left empty. He is just as conservative as Scalia, and in fact, felt so much connection with the late magistrate that he said he cried when he learned of his death.
This identification with Scalia recrudes the battle that the liberals have already already launched against the appointment of Gorsuch. Democrats are expected to vote against the nominee, likely with the dilatory maneuver of a filibuster. They shouldn’t.
However, the GOP majority in the Senate allows for the defeat with ease of any attempts to obstruct the appointment of Gorsuch.
The replacement of one conservative by another leaves the Supreme Court with the same balance it had when when Scalia passed away.
In the spirit of picking your fights, Democrats should not block Gorsuch and save their energies and political influence for the next battle, which will probably occur with the naming of the next justice in the near future. There are three judges in the high court with a suitable age for retirement: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, 83; Anthony Kennedy, 80, and Stephen Breyer, 78.
The withdrawal of any of them could decisively alter the balance of power and ideology in the Supreme Court. That is the battle for which the Democrats must prepare if the withdrawal of one of these magistrates occurs under the Trump government.
But at this point, bringing out the heavy artillery against the appointment of Gorsuch, a judge who has been characterized for his judicial independence, is counterproductive. Democrats must remember the words of Sun Tzu: “Those who know when to fight and when not to win will triumph.”