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The Good And the Bad About Donald Trump's Probable Supreme Court Pick

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 31, 2017 | Comments ()

By Dustin Rowles | Politics | January 31, 2017 |


NeilGorsuch-606x330.jpg

Neil Gorsuch, like the man he’s replacing, Antonin Scalia, is an originalist. As far as conservative Supreme Court justices go, I prefer an originalist to an ideologue. An originalist is at least mostly predictable — they follow the letter of the law, rather than the spirit of the law. There are no “penumbras” when it comes to an originalist: The words of the Constitution take priority, and there is very little room for interpretation.

That’s bad when one considers the number of rights liberal justices have afforded us through the “spirit” of the law: The right to an abortion, same-sex marriage rights, rights to privacy, etc. Like Scalia, he’s not going to be of any help to liberals. He probably respects precedent, so he might not overrule Roe vs. Wade completely, but given Gorsuch’s right to life opinions, he would probably allow for states to pass laws — like the heartbeat bill — that would make it impossible to get an abortion, even if it were technically legal. Likewise, he would probably side with Mike Pence on gay rights, which is to say: He’d rule that Christians could discriminate against gays on the basis of their religion. He’s all about religious freedom, which is another way of saying: The LGBTQ community can go screw.

In the normal realm of the world, Gorsuch is a bad choice, although he wouldn’t necessarily change the composition of the court. Anthony Kennedy would continue to be the swing vote on most wedge issues. We’re basically exchanging one Scalia for another Scalia.

This, however, is a Trump world, and the most reassuring thing about Gorsuch is that he’s well educated (he graduated in the same Harvard class as Obama, which is better than graduating from Jerry Falwell Jr.’s Liberty University Law School, which was a fear I had), competent, and as an originalist, he does respect the Constitution. That matters when there is a President in office who not only doesn’t respect the Constitution, but doesn’t seem to even understand it. Gorsuch, at the very least, understands it. A good originalist will also always side with the Constitution over politics. I would imagine that Gorsuch would not rule in favor of the Muslim ban, for instance.

In other words, on social issues, he’s bad. But if the President actually violated the Constitution, Gorsuch wouldn’t stand for it, so when the impeachment proceedings eventually roll around, he’s a good guy to have around (or at least, a better guy than Alito). He’s a safe check in balancing the separation of powers. He’s also much smarter than Trump and, based on his record alone, one could fairly surmise that he doesn’t have much respect for Donny.

One particular note of concern is where Gorsuch might land on one of the most crucial issues facing the country fight now: Partisan gerrymandering. Gorsuch hasn’t ruled on the issue, but if he’s anything like Scalia, he would likely rule that it’s beyond the scope of the Supreme Court. That would be immensely frustrating.

tl;dr : Gorsuch is bad for social rights, but not likely to accede to the rise of a fascist state


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