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Neil Gorsuch: In the Mold of Antonin Scalia

02-01-2017
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WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump has made his first nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court: Neil Gorsuch, a federal judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Trump knew this choice really mattered to those who elected him. In fact, of voters who said the Supreme Court was their number one issue, 56 percent of them voted for Trump.  The president promised a constitutionalist in the mold of Antonin Scalia and with Gorsuch he's delivered.

"Loves Our Constitution"

Trump told a crowd gathered in the White House Tuesday night, "I promised to select someone who respects our laws and is representative of our Constitution and who loves our Constitution."

Gorsuch told the same audience, "The Supreme Court's work is vital not just to a region of the country but to the whole, vital to the protection of the people's liberties under law and to the continuity of our Constitution, the greatest charter of human liberty the world has ever known."

Trump said he'd thought longer and harder about this pick than any other he's made as president or president-elect. That's because, as he pointed out, a justice could serve 40 or 50 years and make decisions that could affect generations across centuries.

A Sparkling Writing Style

"He will be a superlative Supreme Court Justice," John Malcolm, The Heritage Foundation's veteran Supreme Court-watcher, said of Gorsuch,

Malcolm says he can understand from Gorsuch's past rulings and writings why Trump would choose the Colorado native.

"He is clearly a constitutionalist judge," the legal expert stated.  "He looks deeply and studies the text and structure of the Constitution."

Malcolm then added, "He has a sparkling writing style much like Antonin Scalia.  But more important, he's a very, very deep thinker who's written some incredibly scholarly opinions on a whole host of issues.  His opinions are always thoughtful and well worth reading."

Is He "Extreme" or "Mainstream?"

Naming the nominee was the easy part.   But Senate Democrats have promised a bruising battle over confirmation. Americans will hear over and over again how Trump's pick is "extreme" and not "mainstream."   

And the Democrats' Senate leader, Charles Schumer, has sworn to fight "tooth and nail" against any high court nominee who isn't "mainstream" in the opinion of the Democrats.

Some pledged to fight ANY Trump nominee - a vow that elicited a withering rebuke this week from White House press secretary Sean Spicer.

Responding to a question from CBN News' David Brody, Spicer said of those Democrats, "Before they've even heard who this individual is, you've got some of them saying 'absolutely no.'  That just shows you that it's all about politics.  It's not about qualification."

Senate Once Confirmed Him Unanimously

Trump pointed out of Gorsuch, "When he was nominated to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he was confirmed by the Senate unanimously."

Regarding the coming confirmation hearings and vote, Trump said, "I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once for the good of the country."

Malcolm believes Democrats will attack but with Gorsuch's sterling record and reputation, he's not sure how or on what fronts.

"You never really can replace a legal lion like Antonin Scalia, but a fitting successor to Antonin Scalia: Neil Gorsuch certainly fits that mold," Malcolm said.  "And I expect that at the end of the day, he will get confirmed despite some heated opposition from some pretty mad Democrats."

He added, "It's hard to go after Judge Gorsuch.  He's such a thoughtful jurist."

No Abortion Rulings, But May Still Be a Hot Topic

Malcolm did mention that abortion is often one of the most controversial topics when it comes to confirming justices or judges.

"He (Gorsuch) hasn't written any opinions per se in the area of abortion, which tends to be a hot-button issue," he said. "But he did write a book, actually, based on his doctoral dissertation on euthanasia and physician-assisted suicide.   And he said that the reason he opposed those is because of the inviolability of life. So perhaps that gets some insight into his thinking."

On the issue of religious liberty, Gorsuch ruled for both Hobby Lobby and Little Sisters of the Poor in their legal battles against being forced to cover abortifacient contraceptives for their employees - something that would've violated their religious beliefs.

Malcolm pointed out, "If you care about religious freedom, there's a lot to like about Neil Gorsuch."

As for Gorsuch, he said he's ready for whatever his critics in the Senate bring.

"I consider the United States Senate the greatest deliberative body in the world," Gorsuch stated.  "And I respect the important role the Constitution affords it in the confirmation of our judges.

Senate Democrats have already delayed moving on some of Trump's cabinet choices, including attorney general nominee Sen. Jeff Sessions.  But Gorsuch could face the hardest confirmation battle of them all.

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