A number of people have asked me to share my views on Neil Gorsuch in more detail. I’m sure the curiosity stems from the intersection of my personal relationship with Neil and my absolute disdain for President Trump. I am aware given the current political climate that views on this are very polarized. And while a SCOTUS pick will always stir up emotion, the combination of the hyper polarized environment along with the backdrop of Merrick Garland not getting even a hearing for the same seat I know many people who are very angry about the prospects of Trump filling what was Obama’s seat to fill.
By way of background and to be completely clear, while I know Neal, I don’t want to overstate our relationship. He lives nearby and we’ve had a chance to spend time socially together. We are friendly, but I wouldn’t describe us as friends. I’ve met his wife Louise several times as well and about a month before Neil was nominated, Greeley, Louise, Neil and I had dinner with another couple (at the time I knew that Neil was somewhere in line for SCOTUS but actually hadn’t realized that he was on the short list). I have never and would never ask Neil his views on specific legal issues as that wouldn’t be appropriate.
And to be very clear my views on Trump and his policies, I truly detest the man. I’ve been extremely clear about this on my Twitter feed as well as in this post I wrote a month ago. Daily, I find myself dismayed by the both man himself as well as many of his policies. And while I don’t consider myself a partisan, I am a staunch supporter of individual liberties, equality and equal protection under the law. I am strongly pro-choice and emphatically in favor of marriage equality, among other key issues. My read of the constitution suggests that none of these issues are so called “states rights” issues, but instead are clearly protected federally under both precedent law and the constitution.
It’s hard for me to imagine a better Republican choice for SCOTUS than Neil. In fact, nominating him was by far the single best thing Trump has done as President. The test for a supreme court nominee should NOT be whether they agree with your political views, nor whether they will adjudicate the way you would. That’s simply partisan politics and the court should be above that. Instead we should evaluate supreme court nominees by their qualifications for the job. Are they prepared by their background to face the responsibilities of the highest court? Are they temperamentally suited to the position? Will they approach cases dispassionately and with an open mind? I have absolutely no doubt that Neil is absolutely and completely qualified across all of these factors and more. And while there’s no doubt that Neil is a conservative judge, I believe he’s actually much more open minded than he’s being given credit for in the press. And while he’s an originalist he doesn’t, in my view, believe this means that the constitution should be interpreted strictly as the writers then current views would suggest (he’s said very clearly, for example, that a number of the framers were racist and sexist – that doesn’t allow a judge interpreting the law today to do so through those lenses). Will Judge Gorsuch rule in every case the way I might? Absolutely not. Will he at times, in my estimation, surprise us. Absolutely. Without a doubt Neil is an independent thinker, a kind and gentle person and a calm, rational interpreter of the laws. I think that’s exactly what we need on the Supreme Court right now.