The sudden and untimely death of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia in February 2016 left an enormous void in our nation’s judicial system. It would not be an overstatement to say he was one of the most consequential justices in American History. It was a fitting and appropriate decision, therefore, to delay hearings and a confirmation vote until the people had the opportunity to weigh in through their vote for president. I believe President Trump’s victory was a mandate for the elevation of a conservative judge to the Supreme Court.
The confirmation of Justice Gorsuch essentially maintains the ideological balance of the court with four reliable liberal votes, four reliable conservative votes and the swing vote of Anthony Kennedy, for whom Justice Gorsuch once clerked.
Ironically, there was strong bipartisan support for Justice Gorsuch in every realm in which he has practiced law. The only place that bipartisan support was absent was the United States Senate. When Gorsuch was nominated to serve as a judge on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, the Senate confirmed him unanimously. His home state Sen. Michael Bennet introduced him to the Senate Judiciary Committee by stating, “He is a committed and honorable public servant, and that is why so many members of the Colorado bar and bench support his nomination.” Yet despite the strong bipartisan support he had from the people who know him best, he received only three Democrat votes for his confirmation, and those votes came from senators representing states that President Trump carried by enormous margins.
The opposition to Justice Gorsuch was clearly a case of sour grapes. Democrats were upset that President Obama’s nominee, Judge Merrick Garland, was not given a hearing and they were shocked by the defeat of their nominee for president. Because they believe that this seat on the court was “stolen,” it is safe to assume they would not support any Trump nominee. This forced the Senate Majority Leader to employ the so-called “nuclear option” which allowed the Senate to confirm Justice Gorsuch with a simple majority, rather than the 60-vote threshold to cut off debate and proceed to a confirmation vote.
The vote on Justice Gorsuch should have been a no-brainer. He is a brilliant jurist, an excellent writer, and his academic credentials include Columbia University, Harvard University and Oxford University. He is clearly qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Thankfully, President Trump and a majority of the United States Senate recognized that fact, and Judge Neil Gorsuch is now known as Justice Neil Gorsuch.
Reach U.S. Rep. Tom Cole (R-Moore) of Oklahoma’s 4th Congressional District at 202-225-6165.