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President Trump’s nomination of 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch for the United States Supreme Court represents a welcome development in today’s testy political climate. The personal and professional virtues of Gorsuch should be evident to anyone who cares to trace the arc of his distinguished career. Gorsuch presents two attributes that are surely needed in any justice: practical experience and theoretical sophistication. A Supreme Court clerk to justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy, Gorsuch had a meteoric rise as a practicing attorney at the boutique Washington D.C. firm of Kellogg, Huber, Todd, Evans & Figel. His subsequent decision to take an advanced degree at Oxford, which he attended as a Marshall Scholar, is a virtually unprecedented leap by an established legal practitioner—one that came well over a decade after graduation from law school. His tour of duty in the Justice Department, followed by his elevation to the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, round out the ideal resume for a Supreme Court justice.
It is a sad symptom of our troubled times that our ablest jurists get caught up in confirmation battles that have little or nothing to do with their qualifications, and all too much to do with politics. Just this occurred with Circuit Court Judge Merrick Garland, who was nominated by President Obama shortly after the death of Justice Antonin Scalia. None of this dispute was over Justice Garland’s legal qualifications, which are stellar. It was all about the ideological composition of the Court, which would have shifted if Judge Garland had replaced Justice Scalia. Judge Garland is without question comfortable with the synthesis derived in the post-New Deal period with its two major expansions of federal power—the ability of Congress to impose nationwide regulations under the Commerce power, and the willingness of the Supreme Court to cut back on the protections afforded to economic liberty and private property.
A generation later, the New Deal revolution has featured not judicial deference but judicial activism in such areas as civil rights and school integration, voting rights and reappointment, criminal procedure, and, most recently, gay rights and immigration. The decision of the Republicans to refuse to move on the Garland nomination reflected their aversion to this jurisprudential shift, not to Garland’s personal qualifications.
Guys, Cory Doctorow has Neil Gorsuch in his sights and that means THE NOMINATION IS DOOMED! Neil Gorsuch, Trump's pick for the Supreme Court, was founder of "Fascism Forever Club" at his prep schoolhttps://t.co/kMtQ2NCH6x pic.twitter.com/RP5IbKFpcQ — Masque of the Red Death (@doctorow) February 2, 2017 Preview Open
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Twice in my life (that I know of), I’ve been shot at. Oddly, both happened while I was a Jesuit. Once, was in 1988 while I was part of a group that travelled through Central America. One day in El Salvador we were supposed to travel to visit a particular village that our host, a California Jesuit stationed in San Salvador, thought would be a good idea. We had to travel one of the few national roads, and there were three checkpoints to get through. Six of us rode in the open bed of the Jesuit pickup truck. While approaching the first checkpoint, our California host was driving, and he thought the guards were focused on checking a bus that was overflowing with people, so he made the decision to simply keep going without stopping. (You never stopped if you could avoid it, because the guards were just basically gang teenagers and were known to rob, steal, rape, etc.) Naturally, as soon as we blew through the checkpoint, the guards started shooting at us. None of us were hit, but we had to return to the checkpoint, and spend a couple hours waiting until they let us go.
The other time I was shot at was on a lonely, deserted road … near Westminster, Maryland.
The day after the election, I wrote about how wrong I’d been about it. The first week-and-a-half of the Trump Administration has been a real mixed bag for a conservative of the libertarian persuasion. Like the esteemed Richard Epstein, I was aghast at the policies espoused in many of the executive orders issued so far. To be clear, I’m still very much against much of the agenda pushed through these executive orders, and I’m not walking that back. Yet, I once again find myself in the wrong. Time to face the music.
One of my chief arguments against Trump from the beginning has been his scant allegiance to conservative principle and his capriciousness when it comes to decisions. Sure, he published a list of the judges that he would nominate if elected, but, I said, we can’t trust him to actually stick to it. Well, I was wrong: Trump kept his promise.
My knowledge of Judge Gorsuch isn’t very deep but, if this piece by Ramesh Ponuuru is anything to go by, his nomination is a home run for Originalism:
President Donald Trump has selected Neil M. Gorsuch to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia on the U.S. Supreme Court. He made the announcement in a live, televised event from the White House that began at 8 p.m. Eastern Time.
Gorsuch prevailed over the other finalists, Thomas Hardiman of Pennsylvania, and William H. Pryor Jr. of Alabama, and was easily confirmed by the Senate 10 years ago to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit in Colorado.
In the announcement, Trump said, “Judge Gorsuch has outstanding legal skills, a brilliant mind, tremendous discipline and has earned bipartisan support…. I only hope that both Democrats and Republicans can come together for once, for the good of the country.”