A Profile on Neil Gorsuch
Neil Gorsuch could be the newest judge on the Supreme Court – but who is he? The conservative pick, he is decidedly not a judicial activist, writing in a ruling that “Congress could have written the law differently than it did…but in our legal order, it is the role of the courts to apply the law as it is written, not some different law Congress might have written in the past or might write in the future.”
Judge Gorsuch grew up in Denver, CO, but relocated with his parents to the D.C. area after his mother was nominated to lead the Environmental Protection Agency under President Reagan – something that could be an interesting factor if the EPA’s rulings become litigated under this administration. His education is impressive – he attended Columbia University, Harvard Law School, and earned a doctorate at Oxford University. He met his current wife at Oxford – a UK citizen, perhaps affecting his personal attitude about immigration policy. He currently lives outside Boulder, Colorado, where he is a true outdoorsman, engaging in fly-fishing, rowing and hiking the mountains. He was appointed to the 10th circuit court of appeals under President George Bush in 2006, confirmed by the Senate without objection.
His colleagues believe that although he is conservative, he is thoughtful and deliberate, and will not be likely to dismiss anyone’s claims because he disagrees with them. Democratic opponents have noted that he has favored the wealthy in the majority of his rulings. Democrats are still smarting from the Committee’s refusal to fill the vacant seat for a year, and are outraged by the fact that they are now pushing the Confirmation hearing even while the president’s campaign is under investigation by the FBI. His connections to very wealthy citizens he represented in private practice have also given rise to questions and concerns by Democrats.
For what’s it worth, Gorsuch was able to remain fairly neutral and noncommittal in his confirmation hearings. He noted that a woman’s right to abortion has been upheld numerous times, and said he has strived to be a neutral and independent judge. He also stated in his confirmation that “no one is above the law” and he would have no problem reminding Mr. Trump that he is subject to the laws of the land. He did, however, refuse to offer his perspective on issues that were likely to come before the court, arguing that it would violate his oath of judicial ethics, referring only to the controversial cases of Roe v. Wade and Obergefell v. Hodges as settled law, and precedent. He also commented that when Mr. Trump criticized the Judge who presided over the Trump University controversy, citing his Hispanic heritage as making him biased, Gorsuch remarked that when anyone questions the motives of a federal judge, it is disheartening and demoralizing – including the President.
Gorsuch will be confirmed – the Republicans control the judiciary committee, and are expected to recommend his nomination to the Senate – also controlled by Republicans. Whether Gorsuch is a fair and just arbiter of the law in the highest court in the land will be a different question entirely.
Who’s our newest Supreme Court Judge?March 22, 2017
A Profile on Neil Gorsuch