This week, the United States Senate is expected to vote on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch, to the United States Supreme Court. The nomination of Judge Gorsuch, who has served on the United States Court of Civil Appeals for the Tenth Circuit since 2006, is contested now by partisan politics.
Some Democrats in Congress are threatening to filibuster the vote on the nomination, which means that the nomination would need to receive 60 votes in the Senate to move forward. Republicans hold a 52-48 advantage in the Senate so they would need some Democrats to vote for the nomination in order to defeat the filibuster.
The Democrats have raised the issue of Judge Gorsuch’s prior judicial rulings as the reason for their opposition to his nomination. However, it appears that the true opposition lies in the fact that the Republicans did not allow a vote on former President Barack Obama’s nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the U.S. Supreme Court.
It can be easily argued that Judge Garland deserved an up or down vote on his nomination. A president’s nomination of judges to vacancies on the court are usually given great deference and should not be mired in politics. But, that seems to be what is increasingly taking place in Washington. The wrong done to Judge Garland should not necessarily defeat Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. Simply put, the old axiom “two wrongs do not make a right” is applicable in this case.
An argument has been made that Judge Gorsuch is too conservative in his approach to the law and his rulings tend to lean towards his view. Judge Gorsuch has written hundreds of opinions while on the U.S. Court of Civil Appeals and majority of those opinions have been the majority opinion. You would expect that some of his opinions have been reversed and you would expect that when you have written so many opinions, even when they written as the majority decision of the court.
I have practiced law for almost 25 years and I can honestly say that I have a difference of opinion than that of those Judges who have decided against my client in court. But, that doesn’t mean that the Judge’s opinion was wrong or that it was decided on some misguided notion of the court. I have appealed decisions of judges and have had a court of appeals overturn the lower court’s opinion. But that still doesn’t mean that the trial court’s action were anything other than a difference of how the law should be applied.
I am not a constitutional scholar. In fact, you need only read a federal court opinion or an opinion of the United States Supreme Court to realize just how well reasoned the decisions are given the legal arguments. You learn quickly that the decision are largely based on legal precedent, that is, how courts have ruled on the legal issue in the past. Almost always, the Judge’s reach a consensus on the decision and are based on the law, not political views.
The nomination of a judge to the U.S. Supreme Court was a central theme to the past presidential election. Both republicans and democrats made the argument for their candidate in part on very real possibility that several judges will be appointed to the court over the next few years. And, the people’s voices were heard when President Trump was elected as the 45th President of the United States. While there needs to be a check and balances in our government, the idea that nominations need to be fought along purely political should be abolished.
Judge Neil Gorsuch is an extremely qualified jurist whose character has not been questioned by anyone in Congress. We should expect and demand that the federal judiciary be separate and apart from political squabbles. Certainly, nominations to the U.S. Supreme Court should not be decided on political payback for wrongs previously done. We should demand more from Congress, to implore them to rise above politics and put our country first and end the gridlock in Washington.