Collective Exhale after High Court Announcement

Collective Exhale after High Court Announcement

February 01, 2017

Last night, America received the answer to a long-awaited question: who will President Trump appoint to fill Antonin Scalia's vacant seat at the U.S. Supreme Court? An FRC commission survey last year revealed that the empty seat was a major factor for almost 80 percent of voters. At 8:00 p.m., Trump took the podium in the White House East Room and announced that he'd selected Judge Neil Gorsuch of the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals for the High Court post.

This was excellent news, particularly for the evangelicals that had helped push Trump to victory. Not only had the president made good on his promise to select a nominee from the list of 21 names he had released during his campaign, but Gorsuch was the kind of constitutional originalist that he had promised for the post.

Gorsuch's pedigree is virtually untouchable. With degrees from Harvard, Columbia, and Oxford, he has clerked for both Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy. After 10 years of practice in a prominent D.C. law firm, Gorsuch then served as principal deputy to the associate attorney general, and as acting associate attorney general at the U.S. Department of Justice. In May 2006, President George W. Bush nominated him to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, where he has served for nearly 10 years.

This morning, other conservative organizations joined us in lauding Trump's pick. Statements from the Susan B. Anthony List, the American Center for Law and Justice, and Americans United for Life, had nothing but praise for Gorsuch. Ed Whelan, himself a former Scalia clerk and president of the Ethics & Public Policy Center, stated yesterday, "I think what we have seen from his opinions and vote from the Hobby Lobby case, as well as his vote in the Little Sisters of the Poor case, is that he is reading the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act correctly and not letting the biases that seem to affect so many judges impair him."

In addition to a strong stand on religious liberty, Gorsuch has called for a pro-life ethic, outlined in his book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia. Gorsuch's 2005 op-ed for the National Review summarizes his thoughts on the state of increasingly liberal American jurisprudence: "American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education. This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary."

When Gorsuch took the podium after President Trump last night, he was humble and articulate, remarking that his nomination was a "most solemn assignment," and stating, "I am so thankful for my family, my friends, and my faith. These are the things that keep me grounded in life's peaks and sustain me in its valleys."

I had the privilege of being present at the White House last night for the announcement. Replacing the late Justice Scalia with someone of the same mold will help restore religious liberty and end radical activists' enthusiasm for using the courts as bully pulpits to advance a social agenda not evident in the Constitution. Even a well-known liberal lawyer had words of praise for Judge Gorsuch. When confronted with the many diverse legal questions -- whether they make the news or not -- coming before the Court today, we can trust Judge Gorsuch to faithfully and evenhandedly apply an originalist understanding of the Constitution.

In a show of today's environment of political pettiness, some Senate Democrats have already vowed to filibuster Gorsuch's confirmation vote. But it's important to note that in 2006, Gorsuch was unanimously confirmed by the Senate to the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals! Senate Dems who are still around will have to convince their fellow legislators that they've "changed their minds." Sixty votes are needed in the Senate to avoid a filibuster, and the GOP controls only 52 seats, but in a meeting with Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) earlier this week, the Senate Majority leader said they would confirm the president's Supreme Court nominee. And I believe they will.

Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.

Also in the February 1 Washington Update:

Same Fight, Different Day

Fair Speech for All

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