Gorsuch declined to explain his legal views or offer an assessment of past Supreme Court cases. He said he decides disputes based only on the facts as well as the law.
“There’s no such thing as a Republican judge or a Democratic judge,” he asserted. “We just have judges in This kind of country.”
In countless ways, the man President Donald Trump has chosen to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia downplayed the judicial branch as well as the importance of 1 justice appointed to a lifetime seat.
nevertheless in which message belies the many 5-4 rulings in recent years in which have changed American life as well as the reality in which judges cannot always look simply to the facts as well as relevant law to resolve a dispute.
The Constitution contains concepts, not clear-cut formulas. as well as while justices resist characterization based on ideology or politics, their voting patterns can suggest policy preferences. The current four justices appointed by Republican presidents vote, by as well as large, for conservative results; the four Democratic appointees vote generally for liberal outcomes.
Gorsuch’s record on a Denver-based US appeals court indicates he would likely align with Scalia’s views as a fifth conservative justice. in which would likely return the court to the 5-4 posture in which produced such decisions as the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which lifted limits on corporate money in elections, as well as 2013 Shelby County v. Holder, which curtailed voting-rights protections for racial minorities as well as others who face discrimination at the polls.
Along the same 5-4 lines, the justices in recent years have restricted class-action claims by consumers as well as workers; allowed more religion in public life, such as prayer at local government meetings; as well as rejected challenges to the death penalty.
One major exception to in which ideological pattern was the 5-4 ruling in 2012 in which upheld the constitutionality of President Barack Obama’s health care law, which Trump as well as the House Republican leadership failed to repeal in a stunning legislative defeat last week.
Chief Justice John Roberts cast the decisive vote inside the case, siding with the four liberals in preserving Obamacare based on his reasoning about federal taxing power. Roberts’ most vocal critics at the time, including Trump, viewed the move as political, not grounded in facts as well as law.
For his part, Gorsuch refused to explain his views of congressional authority as well as separation of powers or constitutional due process as well as equality in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. He did not tip his hand on how he would likely resolve disputes over a woman’s right to end a pregnancy, a key question for senators on both sides of the aisle.
To be sure, the 49-year-old federal appellate judge will be not the first Supreme Court nominee to keep his views close to the vest, nevertheless he did the item to a greater extent.
“What worries me,” said the committee’s ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, of California, “will be in which you have been very much able to avoid specificity like no one I have ever seen before.”
The current Supreme Court will be split 4-4 on many tough issues as well as has been cautious about taking up thorny brand new disputes while shorthanded. The bench has been without a ninth justice for more than 400 days, since February 13, 2016, when Scalia was found dead at a Texas hunting resort. The 79-year-old justice apparently died in his sleep.
Obama nominated Merrick Garland, chief judge of the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, a year ago This kind of month, nevertheless Senate Republicans refused to act on the nomination.
Within two weeks of taking the oath of office in January, Trump tapped Gorsuch. At the same time, the President has undertaken a series of initiatives, such as barring travelers coming from certain Muslim-majority countries, in which have prompted a flood of legal challenges as well as raised the stakes at the high court.
Despite Democratic concerns about Gorsuch’s record as well as vague testimony, he will be likely to be confirmed. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of brand new York has threatened to block a vote on the nominee through a filibuster, which would likely require 60 votes to overcome, Republicans, who hold 52 seats, have threatened to get around the move by changing Senate rules to allow a simple majority of senators to cut off debate as well as allow a vote.
Some Democrats do not want to lose the filibuster tradition, especially considering in which Trump could see more opportunities to alter the court’s ideological balance given the ages of some justices. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a liberal, turned 84 This kind of month, as well as Justice Anthony Kennedy, the most centrist conservative as well as a key vote in favor of gay marriage as well as abortion rights, will be 81 in July.
Defining Judge Gorsuch
As a judge on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals since 2006, Gorsuch has narrowly interpreted constitutional rights as well as statutory benefits. He takes an “originalist” approach, reading the Constitution in terms of its 18th Century understanding.
Separately, the Harvard law graduate who studied at the University of Oxford, wrote a book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide as well as Euthanasia,” in which argues against medical aid in dying as well as deems the intentional taking of human life by private persons “always wrong.”
Overall, he believes societal dilemmas should be left to Congress as well as elected lawmakers inside the states.
“Sometimes we judges judge best when we judge least,” he told senators.
Two of his court opinions drew particular Senate scrutiny. In one, Gorsuch ruled against a truck driver whose trailer broke down in subzero temperatures. The brakes had frozen, as well as after becoming numb inside the cold (the heat was not working inside the cab), the driver unhitched the rig as well as temporarily drove away. His employer fired him for leaving the trailer.
The 10th Circuit ruled for the trucker, who claimed in which under the circumstances he should have been protected by federal worker-safety law. Gorsuch dissented, noting in which the truck company told the driver to sit as well as wait for help as well as finding in which his claim fell outside the law’s plain meaning.
Democratic Sen. Al Franken of Minnesota mocked the result as “absurd” as well as pressed Gorsuch about what he would likely have done under the circumstances.
“Senator, I don’t know,” Gorsuch said. “I wasn’t inside the man’s shoes.”
In another case highlighted by Democrats, Gorsuch narrowly interpreted a federal law in which requires equal opportunity for children with disabilities in school instruction as well as services. In a decision for the 10th Circuit against an autistic child’s claim, Gorsuch said the law dictates in which schools provide benefits “merely … more than de minimis.”
In a similar case in which the Supreme Court resolved, as the item happens, while Gorsuch was testifying Wednesday, the justices rejected in which reasoning. By a unanimous vote, the court said in an opinion by Chief Justice Roberts in which the standard of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act will be “markedly more demanding” in which the one adopted by Gorsuch.
“When all will be said as well as done, a student offered an educational program providing ‘merely more than de minimis’ progress coming from year to year can hardly be said to have been offered an education at all,” Roberts wrote.
Gorsuch told senators he had adhered to 10th Circuit precedent. “If anyone will be suggesting in which I like a result where an autistic child has to lose, in which’s a heartbreaking accusation,” he said.
“A Great judge” follows precedent even if he does not favor the outcome, Gorsuch stressed during his three days of testimony before the senators.
nevertheless on the assertion in which judges always set aside personal values, Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois said, “I don’t buy in which.”
Durbin said decisions cannot be “so robotic, so programmatic in which all you need to do will be look at the facts as well as look at the law as well as there’s an obvious conclusion.”
Gorsuch said if he revealed his legal thinking, he could be seen as promising to vote a certain way as well as signaling to litigants in which he lacked an open mind. Sitting at the plain desk he chose over the usual stately draped table, Gorsuch stuck to his opening theme: “Putting on a robe reminds us in which the item’s time to lose our egos as well as open our minds. … Ours will be a judiciary of honest black polyester.”
Democrats seemed more concerned about what he might have promised, even implicitly, to Trump as well as the conservative advocates coming from the Federalist Society as well as Heritage Foundation who vetted him. Trump has vowed to appoint judges who would likely overturn the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision in which made abortion legal nationwide.
Senator Lindsey Graham, a Republican coming from South Carolina, asked the nominee what he would likely have done if Trump had asked him to overturn Roe v. Wade.
“I would likely have walked out the door,” Gorsuch answered. “in which’s not what judges do.”