If President Donald Trump has his way, you’re next Supreme Court Justice of the United States.
There was a moment on Tuesday night where you thought President Donald Trump was going to turn his Supreme Court pick into a reality TV show. Luckily that wasn’t the case.
It was pretty standard fare as President Trump announced his SCOTUS nominee to be Appellate Court Judge Neil Gorsuch of Colorado. So the question arises…
Who the Hell is Neil Gorsuch?
If it hasn’t been obvious by now, Neil Gorsuch is President Trump’s pick to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. Currently he’s appeals court judge on the 10th Circuit Court and is viewed to be a strict Constitutionalist.
Hold Up, What Does “a Constitutionalist” Mean?
Similar to Justice Scalia, Gorsuch is a Constitutionalist, which means he rules on court decisions based on the “framer’s intent” when they wrote the Constitution. So theoretically, Gorsuch will always rule on a case based on what the framers of the Constitution intended the rule of law to be, even if his own views disagree with his assessment. Key words of that sentence of course being, “in theory.”
Since It’s President Trump Picking a Replacement, Is This Guy Even Qualified to Be on the Supreme Court Justice?
Actually, all things considered, it’s a pretty solid pick. His list of credentials run long, which include degrees from multiple prestigious universities (Columbia, Oxford, and Harvard Law), clerked for SCOUTS Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, along with a short stint at the Justice Department under the George W. Bush administration.
So Republicans Must Love Him Then?
Republicans and conservatives love (or will love) him because he’s a judge that relies heavily on the framer’s intent when interpreting the Constitution, so generally that interpretation leads to conservative takes on most cases. He also has a reputation of being a big proponent of religious freedom, which has earned him much praise from social conservatives.
How Do Democrats Feel About the Nomination?
While Democrats and liberals do respect Gorsuch as a judge, they can’t be too happy with the pick. For one, Gorsuch hasn’t made any significant court rulings on such hot button issues like gay rights or abortion, which make many liberals nervous about his selection. Also, he’s been very critical of liberals using the courts to achieve policy goals rather than using the legislature, which he explained in a 2005 National Review op-ed.
Gorsuch’s Nomination Then Would Swing the Court More Conservative?
Nope, not at all. Remember, Gorsuch is replacing the late Justice Scalia, who was already a conservative judge. So basically, the Court would go back to its original power structure before Justice Scalia’s passing. The “real fight” will come if Justice Anthony Kennedy ever decides to retire since over the past few decades, he’s become the de-facto swing vote on a 4-4 divided Court regarding a multitude of issues. Some have even contemplated whether President Trump’s pick of Gorsuch was just to put Justice Kennedy’s mind at ease – since they are reported to be very close – so he’ll be more inclined to retire while the GOP still has control of the presidency and Congress.
Then Democrats Will Pass President Trump’s SCOTUS Pick Then?
Now we didn’t say that! In fact, many are predicting Gorsuch’s nomination to be a particularly bloody political battle! Ironically enough, Gorsuch himself isn’t necessarily the problem here, it’s the presidential administration and the Congressional GOP that many Liberal Democrats have a bone to pick with.
Other Than the Usual Fracturing Between the Political Parties, Why are Democrats/Liberals So Upset at the Trump Administration?
Ok, Fair Point, That Was a Dumb Question. But Why Fight Congressional Republicans Over This?
A big part of it has to do with how Congressional Republicans reacted to former President Barack Obama’s SCOTUS pick Merrick Garland. You may remember last year that former President Obama had nominated a qualified, fairly moderate judge to replace the recently deceased Justice Antonin Scalia. You may also remember that Republicans didn’t even hold a confirmation hearing for Garland to make his case on why he would make a good Supreme Court Justice. In fact, Republicans did everything to basically block the nomination until after the presidential election.
So Democrats Will Try and Block the Nomination Because They’re Still Salty about What Happened with Garland?
Yes and no. While Democrats are still reeling about how Republican Senators had treated Garland, some of them feel blocking Gorsuch’s nomination may come off as petty to voters, which could hurt them in their reelection efforts. Then again, many outside progressive groups want Congressional Democrats to block Gorsuch’s nomination. As of this writing, there’s only one Senate Democrat – Sen. Jeff Merkley of Oregon – that has promised to obstruct and filibuster Gorsuch’s SCOTUS nomination. But for the majority of Democrats in the Senate, it’s still unclear what their plans are in regards to confirming Gorsuch.
What Does It Mean When People Say Democrats Could Use the Filibuster and Republicans Could Use the “Nuclear Option?”
For Gorsuch to get confirmation by the Senate, he would need a 60 vote majority. If Democrats wanted to filibuster President Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, they would make sure that Republicans in the Senate weren’t able to get that 60 vote majority. In turn, if Republicans wanted to pass through Gorsuch with a simple majority vote (ie 51 votes), then they could use the “nuclear option”, in which the Senate makes fundamental rule changes to how SCOTUS nominees would traditionally get through. However, the “nuclear option” for Republicans is a little extreme and there are some Republican Senators that would rather not let it go that far. However, President Trump is definitely not one of them…
So is Neil Gorsuch Going to Be Our Next Supreme Court Justice?
Yeah, he definitely will be. With the Republicans controlling the Senate, Gorsuch is definitely going to get confirmed. The real question is how bloody of a process will it be? If Democrats decide that they want to make it as difficult as possible for Gorsuch, then it could get really heated!
(Photo Credit: White House’s YouTube Channel, Google Images)