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Ethics & Religion
Column #1,856
March 23, 2017
Gorsuch: Excellent for Supreme Court
By Mike McManus


The nominating of Appellate Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court was President Trump's most outstanding initiative.

Gorsuch has had 10 years of experience as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has written 2,700 opinions, agreed to by fellow judges in a remarkable 97% of the cases. He offers a rare combination of intelligence, humility, integrity and a deep commitment to the rule of law.

In long days of testimony this week before the Senate Judiciary Committee, he handled questions with grace, charm and thoughtfulness.

However, he sidestepped many issues raised by Democrats, such as his position on the Roe v. Wade, his views on money in politics and gun control. He also refused to comment on the decision by last year's Republican Senate to even hold hearings on President Obama's nomination of Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court.

"He's an outstanding judge," Gorsuch stated. "Whenever I see his name attached to an opinion it's one I read with special care." When pressed for an opinion on the Republican refusal to hold hearings, Gorsuch sidestepped, "I can't get involved in politics. There's judicial canons that prevent me from doing that. It would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes."

During the campaign, Trump vowed to nominate a judge who would overturn the Roe v. Wade decision. However, Gorsuch refused to be pinned down, saying that no one knows how he might rule.

But Judge Gorsuch said that no one from the White House asked him to make any commitment on legal issues that could come before the Supreme Court.

"I have offered no promises on how I'd rule in any case to anyone, and I don't think it's appropriate for a judge to do so, no matter who's doing the asking. Everyone wants a fair judge to come to their case with an open mind and decide it on the facts and the law."

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) asked him how he would have responded had President Trump asked him to vote to overrule Roe during his interview at Trump Tower.

"Senator, I would have walked out the door."

Perhaps one reason he would have done so is that he probably will not vote to overturn the abortion decision. There are two relevant clues.

First, during his hearings, he said, "Roe has been reaffirmed many times. What was "once a hotly contested issue, is no longer." He also told Senator Graham, "A woman has a right to an abortion."

The second clue to me is that he is an active member of St. John's Episcopal Church in Boulder, CO, a very liberal church, pastored by a woman. The national Episcopal Church has supported Roe v. Wade for decades, and endorsed same-sex marriage for many years. This liberalism prompted more than half of the church's 3.5 million members to leave in recent decades.

However, Judge Gorsuch is conservative on many issues. He wrote a book opposing assisted suicide and euthanasia, arguing that every human life is intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong. That's why many pro-life advocates support him, thinking he might vote to overturn Roe.

Gorsuch is a loving husband and devoted father whose wife Louise sat only a few feet away as he testified. They were college sweethearts at Oxford University, and have two teenage daughters.

When President Bush appointed him to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, he was unanimously confirmed by the Senate in a voice vote.

On that court, he ruled for religious liberty in two high-profile cases that were upheld by the Supreme Court, Hobby Lobby and the Little Sisters of the Poor. Both courts ruled that the Obama Administration could not force employers with strong religious convictions to pay for their employees' contraception services that included abortion-inducing pills.

He eloquently states his philosophy on the role of a judge: "We sometimes hear judges cynically described as politicians in robes, seeking to enforce their own politics rather than striving to apply the law impartially. If I thought that were true, I'd hang up the robe.

"The truth is I just don't believe that's what a life in the law is all about. As a judge now for more than a decade I've watched my colleagues spend long days worrying over cases. Sometimes the answers we reach aren't the ones we personally prefer. But the answers we reach are always the ones we believe the law requires."

Aged only 49, he may have decades to serve, if confirmed.

Copyright (c) 2017 Michael J. McManus, a syndicated columnist and past president of Marriage Savers. For previous columns go to Hit Search for any topic.


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