Like Garland, Gorsuch Deserves a Senate Vote
President Donald Trump has made some lamentable appointments in his brief tenure. Judge Neil Gorsuch is not one of them.
Gorsuch, who serves on the federal appeals court in Denver, Colorado, is a graduate of Harvard Law School and a former Supreme Court clerk. Only 49 years old, he is genuinely well-qualified and well within the mainstream of conservative intellectual thought.
This presents a dilemma for Senate Democrats. Their Republican colleagues shamefully trashed an important democratic norm when they refused even to hold hearings on President Barack Obama’s superbly qualified nominee to the Supreme Court, Merrick Garland. Along the way, Republicans helped to destroy the last vestiges of bipartisan comity in an institution where basic functions have been degraded by partisan rancor over many years.
Now Trump and the Republicans are urging Democrats not to mimic their own reckless behavior. It’s a tall order. Should Democrats comply?
After a thorough review of Gorsuch both on paper and before the Senate Judiciary Committee, and presuming no disqualifying information is discovered, they should.
Democratic partisans will want Democratic senators to do unto Republicans as Republicans did unto them. Many Democratic senators no doubt believe that such turnabout is fair play.
But the American system of government depends on respect not just for the law but for democratic norms, including bipartisan cooperation and deference to the powers of the presidency. Yes, Republicans have eroded those norms. That is not a reason for Democrats to degrade them further.
It is also very likely to be for naught. With Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell under pressure to end the filibuster that requires 60 votes to approve a Supreme Court nominee, a filibuster against Gorsuch could well be the Senate’s last. Given the erratic and confrontational behavior of the man in the Oval Office, Democrats may want to preserve the filibuster for a real emergency.
In his remarks after Trump introduced him, Gorsuch was gracious and dignified. If he proves as decent as he is accomplished, Democrats shouldn’t stand in his way. Let the vetting begin.
--Editors: Francis Wilkinson, Michael Newman
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