Trump’s Nominee to the Supreme Court: Who is Neil Gorsuch?

Trump’s Nominee to the Supreme Court: Who is Neil Gorsuch? February 2, 2017

Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump's nominee to the United States Supeme Court. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, 10th Circuit file photo.
Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the United States Supeme Court. Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons, 10th Circuit file photo.

President Trump has nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch, who is currently on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, for the Supreme Court.

Judge Gorsuch, an Episcopalian, has written a book in opposition to assisted suicide entitled, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. In the book, he said “Human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

Note the caveat he put in that statement, “by private persons.” I interpret that to mean that he supports the death penalty.

I think it is important that he wrote this book in 2006, which means he was not writing it to promote himself vs a vs this nomination.

He is married to his college sweetheart and only wife, Marie Louise. Mrs Gorsuch is originally from Britain. Judge Gorsuch referred to his wife as “Louise” in both his book and during the announcement of his nomination. The couple has two daughters.

I am particularly glad that Judge Gorsuch is a solid family man who has two daughters. I’m hopeful that this will give him an understanding of issues that pertain to violence against women and women’s human rights, in particular sexual assault and rape.

Judge Gorsuch has been roundly endorsed by such heavyweights as Robert P George, who has this to say:

Gorsuch and I have worked together on academic projects, most notably when I was the editor of the Princeton University Press book series for which he wrote “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia” — an impressive, deeply scholarly book that was praised by bioethicists (including the liberal Daniel Callahan and the conservative John Keown) as well as academic lawyers — in 2006. The book critically engages the work of scholars (including myself) across a range of disciplines and representing a spectrum of viewpoints. Gorsuch went the extra mile in ensuring that his treatment of the work of other writers — especially those with whom he disagrees — was sympathetic and impeccably accurate. His sheer fair-mindedness was the thing I found most striking about working with him.

In selecting Gorsuch, President Trump has without question fulfilled his pledge to appoint a justice in the mold of Antonin Scalia — a conservative intellectual leader. Even those of us who refused to get on the Trump train after his nomination have to acknowledge that. But one respect in which Gorsuch is unlike Scalia is that he is not fiery or pugnacious. Rather, his demeanor is scholarly — one might even say bookish. He is not a fierce debater. I recall being with him at an academic conference at which a graduate student contradicted and challenged a comment he had made. Far from bristling or even returning fire, he encouraged the student to develop her argument further, graciously acknowledging merit in the point she had made.

The one blot on his record that I have found is not his blot, but his mother’s. His mother, Anne Gorsuch, was the first woman appointed to head the EPA. She was appointed by President Ronald Reagan. During her tenure, she evidently ignored the agency’s statutory mandate by refusing to hear cases, and limiting regulations on toxic waste disposal.

She was later cited for Contempt of Congress for her refusal to submit documents. She resigned her position as head of the EPA.

This concerns me because of the heavy concentration of oil industry advocates in President Trump’s cabinet appointees. Oil independence is a matter of national security. But we must develop our oil resources with the common good as our goal, which means we must balance the demands of the oil industry with public needs and the public good. That will not happen if the industry has too much control of governance.

I haven’t written about this yet, and now is not the time. But I wanted to add that caveat to this round-up of praise for Judge Gorsuch’s nomination as a bit of a warning. When it comes to people, all our idols have clay feet of one sort or the other.

Having said that, I, for one, intend to get behind Judge Gorsuch’s nomination. Hopefully, the Senate will conduct reasonable and intelligent hearings on his fitness without the usual craziness.


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36 responses to “Trump’s Nominee to the Supreme Court: Who is Neil Gorsuch?”

  1. Rebecca, I am not sure what his mother did or did not do reflects on him. My father was an alcoholic, while I am not. Two of my daughters are for abortion-rights, which I am totally against. Different people, different beliefs.

  2. Without the usual craziness? The craziness has already started.

    The main objection is that the Rs would not accept the Garland nomination, so the Ds won’t accept the Gorsuch nomination. Never mind that Biden and Schumer both said that late term nominations should not be considered.

    Ideologically, it’s worth noting that Gorsuch was confirmed to the appellete court 95-0 in the Senate.

  3. Gorsuch has a number of strikes in his disfavor. He supports corporate rights over employee citizenship rights, for example. This is rather feudal, reflecting a medieval mindset.

  4. Yet he ruled for a Native American in prison who wanted a sweat lodge for religious purposes.

    You don’t actually know what he “supports”. You only know how he ruled on the law. As he said, any judge who is always happy with his own rulings is a bad judge.

  5. Oregon Senate just announced Senate Bill 494, which will legalize involuntary euthanasia of the mentally ill through starvation (patients such as your mother). I think we may have bigger problems on the horizon than individual state Death Penalties that kill fewer people every year.

  6. “openness” “fair minded” “listens” “well respected” “very intelligent” “respects all views” Those are the opinions that come up often.

  7. “Hopefully, the Senate will conduct reasonable and intelligent hearings on his fitness without the usual craziness.”

    The last president was not permitted to seat a SC justice, simply out of partisan spite. If the expectation is that that outrage will be met with meek acquiescence and quick confirmation of the new president’s justice, you’re either naïve or hopelessly partisan. The seat belongs to Garland. And we’ll make sure you know it.

  8. I am fascinated by the way that my socialist friends think of me as a libertarian and my libertarian friends think of me as a socialist. There is value in the middle path.

  9. He is an able man but I suspect from some of his comments that he is a Christer and bible thumper. We need conservatives smart enough to know Christianity is a farce for fools.

  10. My “friends” tend to go a little meaner and more extreme than that. I don’t know if your friends are friends despite differences or not. My experience has been you can count those — who are real friends — on the fingers of one hand; blood relatives, who always stick no matter what, not going into the counting.

    Here’s the deal, girlfriend: Those who turn because you have the temerity to think differently than them about politics, religion or whatnot? They aren’t, and never have been, your friends. They’re colleagues, associates, alliances. Not friends.

  11. Joe Biden and Chuck Schumer both said that a SCOTUS justice should not be approved in the last year of a president’s term.

  12. The notion that appointees to the court should not be given a hearing in the last year of a president’s term is risible, given that a recent presidential election was decided by the Supreme Court. The Court needs an odd number of justices to break ties.

    Gorsuch will probably be Trump’s best nominee, but let’s not pretend that he’s owed a hearing in fairness. Merrick Garland was owed a hearing. He is a moderate- not some bigoted estremist like Robert Bork, who actually got a hearing.

  13. I agree. It was Congress’ job to hold hearings, and they, as usual, refused for political reasons. All they had to do was hold hearings and then refuse to approve the nomination. They had the votes for that, and then some. But nooooo. They went the usual Congress-is-out-a-partisan-lunch path. Congress’ failure to be Congress is doing great harm to this country. Witness the fact that the presidency has become pretty much an elected dictatorship. That’s on Congress and their refusal to consider, debate and vote on legislation.

  14. I don’t know what they said. I do know that Advise and Consent is part of the Senate’s job. They didn’t have to consent, and they clearly had the votes not to. But they certainly have done the work they were elected to do and held hearings and brought the matter to a vote. That is why they are there in the first place.

  15. I feel most pity for the affluent who have far more flatterers in their lives than genuine friends.

  16. The same Joe Biden who, ten mintutes later said, “I believe that so long as the public continues to split its confidence between the branches, compromise is the responsible course both for the White House and for the Senate,” he said. “Therefore I stand by my position, Mr. President, if the President [George H.W. Bush] consults and cooperates with the Senate or moderates his selections absent consultation, then his nominees may enjoy my support as did Justices Kennedy and Souter.”

    And, by every *objective* measure, Garland Merrick met Biden’s 1992 criteria.

    So, why is this new nominee any differnet from Garland Merrick (beyond having legal views you don’t like)?

    Jim Bales

  17. Remember the last 10 months of Obama’s presidency, when the GOP pulled together to publicly obstruct Garland? You’re going to. I hope that the Dems block every nominee the Trump administration puts forth no matter his/her skill level or academic pedigree. There is no constitutional minimum or maximum number of justices, and although it would be best to have an uneven number, it is not mandatory. Conservatives might as well get used to the same irrational, mean-spirited policy of resistance and obstruction that they gave Obama. What’s good for the goose, and so on.

  18. Misunderstandings can destroy friendships. Sometimes, the rifts can be overcome. Sometimes they can’t.

    Sometimes we have to learn to be grateful for the time we had these friendships rather than hurts that they didn’t go on forever.

  19. The other part of Biden’s speil concerned the fact that he thought the SCOTUS has gotten too many “convervative” justices and he wanted to block more.

  20. Hardly irrational. It’s just a game both parties play when they can. Claiming the high ground doesn’t mean you actually hold it.

  21. Oh, I’m not claiming the high ground at all. I’m way beyond caring about whether systematic obstruction “right” or “good for the country.” All I’m interested in is making sure that Trump-conservatives get nothing done as long as his administration lasts. As long as the Bannon/Trump/Pence triumvirate is driven crazy every day, I’m happy.

  22. Well, as long as you’re happy, that’s all that matters.

    Although, I don’t think that you are on their radar.

  23. It’s not just me, pal. I’d be willing to bet there are many more people like me that people who voted for Trump. I guess we’ll see.