Even after two full days of questioning, there’s a lot of things that happily appease Republicans, yet still worry Democrats, about Neil Gorsuch.
After two full days of senators grilling President Donald Trump’s SCOTUS nominee, Neil Gorsuch, both Republicans and Democrats are in very different places. While most Republicans can’t say enough good things about the Gorsuch nomination, Democrats are still skeptical over the SCOTUS pick. Never the less, there are a lot of takeaways from Gorsuch’s SCOTUS confirmation hearing.
Takeaway #1: Republicans’ Political Gambit of Blocking Merrick Garland Payed Off
Last February, when Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia had died, the Obama administration (along with Democrats) wanted to fill the vacant Supreme Court seat and chose Merrick Garland, a well-respected DC Circuit Court Judge. However, Congressional Republicans weren’t having it. They felt that Justice Scalia’s seat shouldn’t be filled until after the 2016 presidential election.
Now fast-forward to today; we now live in a Donald Trump presidency where his SCOTUS pick to replace Justice Scalia, Neil Gorsuch, is being vetted by the Senate Judicial Committee and looks to be the newest addition to the US Supreme Court. Republicans have essentially turned someone that they weren’t too fond of being on the Supreme Court (Garland) and got someone who is as big of a “Constitutionalist” as Justice Scalia was (Gorsuch). In other words, the GOP’s political gambit of blocking Garland payed off.
Takeaway #2: The Blocking of Garland Has Created Terrible Precedence
In conjunction to the last takeaway, the blocking of Garland – while effective – may have started a troubling move in Congress that may become the norm for now on. For the better part of the past year, the Supreme Court has been working with a shortened bench of only eight members. Because of this, the court hasn’t been able to take on cases of any real importance in the fear of the decision being a 4-4 tie, thus sending the decision back to the lower courts. Which is a problem.
The worry with the Republicans blocking Garland’s nomination and succeeding to get someone more favorable on the bench, is that it could now be looked at as a viable political strategy going forward. It wasn’t that far back that SCOTUS nominees weren’t that politically divisive, but with each new nomination, the process looks to become more politically charged than the one before. In that environment, the idea of blocking SCOTUS picks so you can get someone that favors your party platform better becomes more-and-more likely as we go forward.
Takeaway #3: Democrats Have to Decide if Blocking Gorsuch’s Nomination is the Hill They Want to Die On
As of this writing, Senate Democrats have two choices when it comes to nominating Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. They could either:
(A) Block Gorsuch’s nomination to the Supreme Court with a Senate filibuster, in which Republican Senators would probably go nuclear and do away with that filibuster power in a Senate rules change, thus nominating Gorsuch with a simple Senate majority.
(B) They pass through Gorsuch’s nomination and will try to block a future SCOTUS nomination if another vacancy presents itself during President Trump’s time in office.
For our money, considering (1) Gorsuch will be nominated in either scenario, (2) Gorsuch is replacing a conservative judge so the court’s balance would basically be the same as before Justice Scalia’s death, and (3) while not the Democrat’s favorite, Gorsuch is qualified/the best option they could hope for in a President Trump SCOTUS pick; Democrats’ only real option is (B).
Takeaway #4: Gorsuch is Going to Be a Conservative Judge
Gorsuch over the last three days has been asked a lot of questions by the Senate Judicial Committee. Not surprisingly, Gorsuch has done a pretty convincing job of sidestepping more controversial issues (reproductive rights, the 2nd Amendment, ect), but as the questions went on, it became clear on what side he would be falling on in most SCOTUS cases if he were to get the nomination.
Gorsuch takes a very strict Constitutionalist stance, similar to how Justice Scalia used to judge cases (ie majority of his decisions are going to fall on the conservative side of the spectrum). Court cases like “The Frozen Trucker” and his rulings in favor of big corporations, show that even if he doesn’t personally agree with these verdicts, he’ll try them based on his interpretation of the law. If that sounds familiar, that’s exactly how Justice Scalia used to frame some of his more controversial decisions on the Supreme Court.
Of course, as the above video shows, this has many Senate Democrats more than a little concerned. Considering Gorsuch has been sidestepping controversial questions throughout the two days of Senate hearings and he has almost no record on more hot button issues like reproductive rights, many Democrats aren’t worried about the conservative stances he’s taken in the past, but the ones that aren’t as explicit.
Takeaway #5: Both Neil Gorsuch and Sen. Ted Cruz Just Ruined Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy for a Lot of Liberals
Cruz: "What is the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything?" Gorsuch: "Forty-two." That was fun.
— Matt Flegenheimer (@mattfleg) March 21, 2017
(Photo Credits: Pixabay.com, Google Images)