Should Democrats Fear Neil Gorsuch?

April 5th, 2017

Let’s begin by stating the obvious.

Democrats’ planned filibuster of Neil Gorsuch is simply retaliation for what happened (or didn’t happen) to Obama nominee Merrick Garland.

Naturally, that sounds very petty and immature, so some Democrat senators are now suggesting that they have lots of qualms about Gorsuch’s judicial record and that this is the sole basis for their objection to him.

But why?

Granted, they probably don’t agree with him politically, but the Supreme Court isn’t supposed to be a purely political appointment. Supreme Court justices should be jurists who impartially apply the law.  Their tenure is for life.  We should hope that political hacks don’t become Supreme Court justices.

Also, the Senate, which holds the power to confirm judges, has historically been the more collegial of the two branches of Congress.  Members of that body tend to respect the appointment power of the president and will permit votes on individuals they don’t necessarily agree with politically.

Face it.  Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan are not political centrists. They are liberals through and through in the image of the man who appointed them, Barrack Obama.  And yet Republicans didn’t fight tooth and nail to deny them a seat on the high court.

That’s what makes some of the Democrats statements in the past few days so laughable.  They claim that the real problem here is that Gorsuch is too conservative and that if they could just all work together they could come up with an acceptable moderate compromise.  Obviously, this is wrong on two counts.  First, it’s the president who makes the appointment.  Not the Senators.  If Gorsuch is rejected, then President Trump would need to appoint someone else.  Also, if this is how it’s really supposed to work then we should all ask for a do-over since Sotomayor and Kagan are far too liberal for mainstream America and should never have been seated on the Court in the first place.

The bottom line to all of this, however, is that likely Democrats have nothing to fear in Gorsuch in the first place.  That’s because Republican presidents have an uncanny knack for appointing justices who end up being far more liberal than anyone could have expected.

Just look at the list.  President Eisenhower appointed Earl Warren and William Brennan. Harry Blackmun and Warren Burger were Nixon appointees.  Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor and Anthony Kennedy, each holding the distinction of being a swing vote on the Court in either political direction. George H. W. Bush was responsible for David Souter’s tenure on the Court. Finally, George W. Bush appointed John Roberts, the man who saved the Affordable Care Act.  Most likely Roberts’ act was borne out of a desire to keep the Court out of politics directly, but it ultimately had the same effect as if he’d been a card-carrying Democrat.

Presidential appointees on the Democrats’ side don’t seem to have the same propensity.  If a Democrat appoints them, their decisions are almost always consistent with the likely expectations of those who put them on the Court.

And what if Neil Gorsuch proves to be the conservative Democrats fear and Republicans expect?  In the grand scheme of things, it shouldn’t matter since he will replace Antonin Scalia and not Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Given that, Senate Democrats attempt to block Neil Gorsuch is nothing more than revenge, theater, or both. In any event, it certainly doesn’t bode well for the future of the United States Senate as a body or the country as a whole.




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