Judge Neil M. Gorsuch was confirmed by the Senate on Friday to become the 113th justice of the Supreme Court, capping a political brawl that lasted for more than a year and tested constitutional norms inside the Capitol’s fraying upper chamber.
Vice President Mike Pence presided over the final vote on Friday, a show of force for the White House on a day when his tiebreaking vote as president of the Senate was not necessary. The final tally was 54-45 in favor of confirmation.
The confirmation was also a vindication of the bare-knuckled strategy of Senate Republicans, who refused even to consider President Barack Obama’s Supreme Court pick, Judge Merrick B. Garland, saying the choice of the next justice should belong to the next president.
Yet the bruising confrontation has left the Senate a changed place. Friday’s vote was only possible after the Senate discarded longstanding rules meant to ensure mature deliberation and bipartisan cooperation in considering Supreme Court nominees. On Thursday, after Democrats waged a filibuster against Judge Gorsuch, denying him the 60 votes required to advance to a final vote, Republicans invoked the so-called nuclear option: lowering the threshold on Supreme Court nominations to a simple majority vote.
The confirmation saga did not help the reputation of the Supreme Court, either. The justices say politics plays no role in their work, but the public heard an unrelentingly different story over the last year, with politicians, pundits and well-financed outside groups insisting that a Democratic nominee would rule differently from a Republican one.
So now that they changed the rules to get him through- here are some things I like and some that I don’t like about him.
- Like– Gorsuch “is a defender of the ‘Free Exercise Clause,’ which says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.” As such, he has also championed the rights of religious groups to display their religion in public places. A lot of times people look at this clause and think any representation of religion is an establishment of religion, which is not true. I have no problem with religious texts or discussions happening in public spaces, I just don’t like when it is limited to only 1 religion or idea.
- Dislike– I dislike that the GOP blocked Merrick Garland’s appointment for over a year and said that they wanted the American people to decide, which did 2 things, 1- overly politicized what should be an apolitical position, and 2. What happens if we find out there is overwhelming evidence that Russia changed our election? Gorsuch has a lifetime appointment and he would have gotten in under false pretenses.
- Like– While a devout Christian, he comes from a church that has a woman pastor and that doesn’t discriminate against homosexuals. He has also ruled against discriminating against a transgendered person. On the transgender issue, Gorsuch joined an opinion holding that “it is unlawful to discriminate against a transgender (or any other) person because he or she does not behave in accordance with an employer’s expectations for men or women.” Kastl v. Maricopa Cty. Cmty. Coll. Dist., 325 F. App’x 492, 493 (9th Cir. 2009).
- Dislike– once “nuked” the Filibuster is likely gone forever, giving Donald Trump and future Presidents more power than Presidents have ever had in the history of The United States. Why? Because under the Checks and Balances of our government Presidents have always had to have at least some of the OTHER party to consent to do really big things like confirm Supreme Court nominees. After the Filibuster is gone, President Trump can appoint virtually anyone he wants – no matter how horrible the other party or the country believes that person is – and the other party and the country can do absolutely NOTHING about it. Some have said that eliminating the “Check and Balance” of The Senate Filibuster would give Donald Trump and every future President the same kind of totalitarian powers that Vladimir Putin has in Russia and that exist in Dictatorships in other countries around the world. End The Filibuster, End Democracy in America
- Like– He is from Colorado so it will be nice to have someone with experience in a more “rural” state/area of the country. My hope is he stands up for things like National Parks and State Lands over privatization.
- Dislike– Many of his opinions have sided with corporations over individuals. My concern is for corporations to continue to gain more power after decisions like citizens united.
Bonus Dislike– The amount of “dark money” that was spent to try and get people to convince their senators to vote for him. The money spent includes TV ads, over a million postcards and organizing events at mega-churches, among other outreach efforts.
The campaign is targeting Democratic senators up for reelection in 2018 in states that Trump carried, since they’re more likely to vote for Gorsuch’s nomination.
Helping lead this effort is a little-known group, the Judicial Crisis Network, which pledged to spend at least $10 million to back Gorsuch’s nomination.
Once on the divided Supreme Court, Gorsuch could be the deciding vote in decisions affecting the wealthy interests who supported his nomination. But with his backers’ identity hidden, the public will be in the dark about his potential conflicts of interest.
Prior to backing Gorsuch, the Judicial Crisis Network spent $7 million in 2016 to (successfully) thwart President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee, Merrick Garland, from even getting a confirmation hearing.