Editorial: Senate should confirm Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Editorial: Senate should confirm Gorsuch for Supreme Court

  • Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch is conservative, but he is competent and qualified to serve on the court.
  • Democrats in the U.S. Senate, including Florida’s Bill Nelson, have vowed to filibuster President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court.
  • Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch is conservative, but he is competent and qualified to serve on the court.
  • Democrats complained Gorsuch was evasive during his confirmation hearing about how he would rule on specific issues and failed to convince them that he would be an independent check on Trump policies that could come before the court.
  • Trump has nominated a respected conservative judge who would not alter the court’s balance.

Democrats in the U.S. Senate, including Florida’s Bill Nelson, have vowed to filibuster President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Being obstructionists would damage both institutions and serve no useful purpose other than to pacify the most liberal wing of the party. Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch is conservative, but he is competent and qualified to serve on the court. Democrats should allow his nomination to move forward, and the Senate should vote to confirm him.

@TB_Times: Editorial: Senate should confirm Gorsuch for Supreme Court

Democrats in the U.S. Senate, including Florida’s Bill Nelson, have vowed to filibuster President Donald Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court. Being obstructionists would damage both institutions and serve no useful purpose other than to pacify the most liberal wing of the party. Federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch is conservative, but he is competent and qualified to serve on the court. Democrats should allow his nomination to move forward, and the Senate should vote to confirm him.

Gorsuch, 49, who serves on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver, is a constitutional originalist, meaning he tries to interpret the document through the understanding of those who drafted it. That approach has landed him on the wrong side of many issues. In perhaps his best-known vote on the appeals court, he sided with Hobby Lobby Stores, a family-owned company that objected on religious grounds to the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that some employers provide contraception for female employees. The Supreme Court agreed in a wrongheaded opinion that essentially granted a religious freedom claim to a corporation and allowed the company’s owners to impose their religious beliefs on their employees. Gorsuch’s record also includes troubling opinions that harmed campaign finance reforms and workers’ rights. But he has strong academic credentials and judicial experience, and his conservative opinions are not disqualifying.

Democrats complained Gorsuch was evasive during his confirmation hearing about how he would rule on specific issues and failed to convince them that he would be an independent check on Trump policies that could come before the court. Nelson, a centrist whose support of a filibuster is surprising and disappointing, cited concerns about Gorsuch’s thinking on voting rights and political spending. By all indications, Gorsuch would be a consistently conservative vote. But he would be succeeding the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a conservative icon, and he would not alter the court’s ideological balance between conservatives and moderates.

Democrats should save their firepower for the next open Supreme Court seat — a more consequential fight that could come during Trump’s term and tip the balance should someone like 84-year-old Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg retire. And if Democrats filibuster this time, it almost certainly won’t work. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has indicated he is willing to deploy the “nuclear option” — changing longstanding Senate rules to allow Gorsuch to proceed to confirmation with a simple majority vote — if Democrats insist on filibustering. With the outcome all but guaranteed anyway, why charge down that extreme path?

Partisan extremism is what led to this juncture. For eight years, Republicans impeded President Barack Obama’s agenda, culminating with their refusal last year to even consider the nomination of Judge Merrick Garland, Obama’s pick to replace Scalia. It was an unprecedented act of obstruction with no justification in law or history. Even so, Nelson and other Senate Democrats should not follow that sorry example. They should take the opportunity to restore some semblance of the democratic norms that have been abandoned. In a two-party system, the sides will often differ, but that must not come at the expense of a functioning government.

Republican presidents traditionally seek to appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court. Trump has nominated a respected conservative judge who would not alter the court’s balance. Democrats should drop their threat of a filibuster, which would only further degrade the political process, and the Senate should confirm Gorsuch.

Editorial: Senate should confirm Gorsuch for Supreme Court

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