What we can learn about the man who is Justice Gorsuch from his own words.
On April 7, 2016 then Judge Neil Gorsuch delivered a lecture at Case Western Reserve University School of Law in which he described his feelings upon hearing of the passing of the late Justice Antonin Scalia and his sentiments regarding Scalia’s legacy.
Of Scalia, Gorsuch stated:
A few weeks ago, I was taking a breather in the middle of a ski run with little on my mind but the next mogul field when my phone rang with the news. I immediately lost what breath I had left, and I am not embarrassed to admit that I couldn’t see the rest of the way down the mountain for the tears. From that moment it seemed clear to me there was no way I could give a speech about the law at this time without reference to that news.
So tonight I want to say something about Justice Scalia’s legacy. Sometimes people are described as lions of their profession and I have difficulty understanding exactly what that’s supposed to mean. Not so with Justice Scalia. He really was a lion of the law: docile in private life but a ferocious fighter when at work, with a roar that could echo for miles. Volumes rightly will be written about his contributions to American law, on the bench and off. Indeed, I have a hard time thinking of another Justice who has penned so many influential articles and books about the law even while busy deciding cases.
In an article written for National Review before becoming a Judge, Gorsuch lamented:
…That American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.
This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary.
At the same time, the politicization of the judiciary undermines the only real asset it has — its independence. Judges come to be seen as politicians and their confirmations become just another avenue of political warfare. Respect for the role of judges and the legitimacy of the judiciary branch as a whole diminishes. The judiciary’s diminishing claim to neutrality and independence is exemplified by a recent, historic shift in the Senate’s confirmation process. Where trial-court and appeals-court nominees were once routinely confirmed on voice vote, they are now routinely subjected to ideological litmus tests, filibusters, and vicious interest-group attacks. It is a warning sign that our judiciary is losing its legitimacy when trial and circuit-court judges are viewed and treated as little more than politicians with robes.
These words are almost prophetic of his own confirmation hearings and the unprecedented filibuster bluster by Democrats on Gorsuch and the counterattack by Senate Republicans in changing precedent and invoking cloture on Gorsuch’s nomination – bringing about the official vote last Friday.
In his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, he advocates that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”