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Monday, March 20, 2017

What Is The Case Against Neil Gorsuch?

The confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch begin in Washington today.  The case for the judge is easy:  he has a brilliant mind, has a great educational and experiential background, thinks and writes clearly, and strongly supports the Constitution.  The case against him, however, seems hard to understand.  That was why I read the column by senator Elizabeth Warren from the Boston Globe in which she describes her reasons to oppose the nomination.  Senator Warren was a professor at my alma mater, Harvard Law School, prior to entering the Senate.  I figured that if these is a case to be made against judge Gorsuch, she would be the one to do it.  She fails miserably.

Here's how Warren starts her piece:

WHEN JUSTICE Antonin Scalia died last year, giant corporations and their right-wing buddies spent millions of dollars to keep the Supreme Court seat open so that Donald Trump could fill the vacancy. It was only the latest step in their campaign to tilt our courts in favor of big corporations and the wealthy. Now, the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court is their reward.

Warren goes on to explain how Gorsuch is a tool of big business.

From the first word to the last, Warren's column is nonsense.  It wasn't millions of dollars from big corporations that kept Scalia's seat open.  It was a decision made by the Republican leadership of the Senate that no vote would be held until the next president was in office.  That is something that is normal in the last year of a president's term.  Senators almost never approve a new Supreme Court justice during the last few months of a president's term.  Senator McConnell, the GOP leader, announced that position almost immediately after the death of justice Scalia.  He did it with no action by giant corporations or "right-wing buddies".  He did it without so much as ten dollars being involved, and certainly not millions of dollars.  But senator Warren wants to paint Gorsuch as the result of a conspiracy by big corporations, so she just makes up new facts.  That's not an "argument"; rather, it's a lie.

And what does Warren point to in support of her claim that Gorsuch is a tool of big business?  Gorsuch sees no reason to defer to the administrative bodies of the federal government with regard to rule making.  Think about that.  Congress has given agencies like the EPA or the FDA the ability to make rules that have the force of law.  In doing so, Congress has ceded part of its legislative authority to unelected bureaucrats who often seem more interested in amassing power for their agencies than in respecting the proper limits of their roles.  Gorsuch does not believe that the judiciary has to cede any of its authority to these same people.  The opinions of these regulatory bodies need not get special authority or respect from the courts.  Senator Warren may think that administrative agencies are better than the people of the USA or the constitutional officers of the USA, but judge Gorsuch does not.  That view by the judge is not as a tool of big business; rather, it is one that would limit the vast power of the administrative state.  In short, it's a good thing for our democracy.

There is one thing that Warren's column makes clear.  There is no cogent and valid argument to be made against judge Gorsuch.  Barring some surprise at the hearings, Neil Gorsuch will soon be a justice of the Supreme Court.  He will be a fine selection for the Court.  Oh, and there is one other thing that the column makes clear:  senator Warren -- who obviously knows better -- is prepared to say anything to advance her political goals.

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