03.24.2017 1

Lessons from the Gorsuch hearings

By Peter Hong

What have we learned from the four days of confirmation hearings for the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court?

About Judge Gorsuch – not much more than we already knew from his career, record, and writings.  He is a preeminently qualified jurist, receiving the vaunted “well qualified” rating, the highest offered by the American Bar Association.   He is committed to the judiciary restraining itself to its appropriate role under Article 3 of the Constitution.  As Gorsuch articulated in his testimony:

“If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like it to be, the very idea of a government by the people and for the people would be at risk.  And those who came to court would live in fear, never sure exactly what governs them except the judge’s will.”

In other words, Judge Gorsuch embraces his role as a judge and does not want to be anything else.  Contrary to the activist culture on the Court, his judicial philosophy is solidly grounded in following the rule of law, not twisting it to reach a pre-determined or desired result.

We also learned that Gorsuch’s character, temperament and style — much to the frustration of Senate Democrats – are unimpeachable; as a result, the liberals couldn’t land a single punch.

Judicial confirmation hearings used to be opportunities for the U.S. Senate to exercise its constitutional role of giving “advice and consent” for nominations to the federal bench.  Then, in 1987, came the Joe Biden-Ted Kennedy ambush of Robert Bork – a constitutional travesty of such enormous proportion that it coined its own verb in the dictionary: to “bork.”

Much as they tried, Democrats just couldn’t “bork” Gorsuch.  Dianne Feinstein of California attempted to corner Gorsuch on abortion, asking if he thought that Roe v. Wade had a “super-precedent” (don’t bother searching for it in Black’s  Law Dictionary).  Instead of exposing Feinstein’s obvious legal malapropism, Gorsuch mercifully stated the fact that Roe has been “reaffirmed many times.”  He also refrained from reminding Senator Feinstein that Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) served as a “super-precedent” for state racial segregation laws for nearly 60 years before being reversed by Brown v. Board of Education (1954).

When Al Franken, the senator from Saturday Night Live via Minnesota, tried to grill Gorsuch on the failed Merrick Garland nomination, the judge deftly reminded him that as a judge, his job was not to talk about politics.  After some unintelligible grumbling, Franken, a potential presidential hopeful, waved the white flag of surrender.

Gorsuch displayed time and again why he is considered a judge’s judge.  And he skillfully maneuvered his way through the interrogation minefields — which is what drives Senate Democrats and their loony leftist base absolutely nuts.

Their collective insanity has reached a boiling point.  Even before the hearings concluded, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that he would not only oppose the nomination, but filibuster it as well.  Apparently, Schumer has had a change of heart since his declaration in September that “Every day that goes by without a ninth justice is another day where the American people’s business is not getting done.”  Amazing what an electoral thrashing will do to some people.

Since we didn’t learn anything new about the unrepentant left on both the Judiciary Committee and in leadership, what exactly can we learn from the Gorsuch nomination?

First, we’ll learn something about the most endangered species in Washington:  the Democrats running for reelection in Trump states.  The Judiciary Committee Democrats comprise the Murderers Row of the loony left, all safely ensconced in states that did not vote for Trump (though Minnesota was razor-close, Senators Franken and Klobuchar).

But where will Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Jon Tester (Mont.), Joe Manchin (W.Va.), Joe Donnelly (Ind.), Claire McCaskill (Mo.), Debbie Stabenow (Mich.), Tammy Baldwin (Wis.), Sherrod Brown (Ohio), or Bill Nelson (Fla.) come down on a filibuster (Bob Casey Jr. of Pennsylvania is already a “no” on Gorsuch)?  They know full well that the left-wing “resistance” that dominates the national Democratic Party does not vote (legally) in their states.

And what will Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell do?  Will he be willing to trigger the so-called “nuclear option” to kill the filibuster? With the only reliable votes on the Supreme Court being Justices Thomas and Alito, he will have to if the Democrats refuse to relent – or face the fury of his own base scorned.

Out of these hearings, one thing remains nearly certain:  Judge Neil Gorsuch will be the next Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.  The only questions remaining are when and at what cost.

Peter Hong is a contributing reporter at Americans for Limited Government.

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