The Media on Gorsuch: Compliment and Critique

On Tuesday, President Trump announced his official nomination for the vacant Supreme Court Justice seat: Neil Gorsuch, a current federal appellate judge in the 10th circuit.

Trump seemingly summoned his two most likely candidates for the Supreme Court slot – Judge Neil Gorsuch and Judge Thomas Hardiman – to DC in what some called a reality show-esque stunt for the announcement. The suspense was surely built around the televised, primetime reveal – but ultimately, Gorsuch was a choice that many saw coming.

Looking at Gorsuch’s voting record, it appears that Mr. Trump picked a classic, constitutional conservative for the seat. “Gorsuch is a known originalist and proponent of textualism,” Axios reporter Shannon Vavra says, “he believes the Constitution should be interpreted based on its historical drafting and takes what was written literally.”

After the announcement, the media has been buzzing with op-eds and commentary on the nominee.

The New York Times editorial board collectively wrote an op-ed bitter from the loss of what could have been a more moderate Justice nominated by former President Obama. “Judge Garland, a former federal prosecutor and 20-year veteran of the nation’s most important federal appeals court, is both more moderate and more qualified than Judge Gorsuch,” the New York Times reported. The board also comments on the decisive way party politics play into the justice confirmation process, noting that “the destructive lesson Senate Republicans taught is that obstruction pays off.”

“Gorsuch should be a consistent vote against gay and trans rights,” Slate reporter Mark Joseph Stern writes, critical of Gorsuch’s anti-LGBTQ voting record. “From questioning the constitutional necessity of same-sex marriage to accepting pretextual defense of trans bathroom exclusion, Gorsuch has repeatedly declined to defend the equal dignity of LGBTQ people.”

In a FiveThirtyEight politics Slack chat, statistician and writer Nate Silver comments on the politics of confirming the pick and the likelihood of long-term Democratic obstruction. “Democrats will be under huge pressure from the base to filibuster the pick,” Silver writes, “Obstructionism sounds like sort of an archaic concern, given the politics-ain’t beanbag era that we’re in right now.”

CNN’s Jonathan Tasini supports a Democratic filibuster of Gorsuch, commenting on the long term impact that a conservative justice will have on American politics from a liberal approach. “By the pure nature of a lifetime appointment, Gorsuch could shape our world for several decades. So without reservation, Democrats should block Trump from the ability to leave us with the ugly stain of his actions long after he leaves office.”

Not everyone thinks the Democrats should filibuster Trump’s pick, however. In a New York Times op-ed, American lawyer and constitutional law professor Neal Katyal makes the case as to why liberal Democrats should appoint the nomination and potential appointment of Gorsuch. “I have no doubt that if confirmed, Judge Gorsuch would help to restore confidence in the rule of law,” the Katyal writes. “His years on the bench reveal a commitment to judicial independence a record that should give the American people confidence that he will not compromise principle to favor the president who appointed him.”

Washington Post contributor and libertarian opinion blogger Radley Balko agrees with Katyal’s logic: “A proven record of standing up to the executive branch when it oversteps its authority on immigration that seems pretty relevant and important right now.”

In addition to praising his judicial positions, Balko also makes favorable comments on Gorsuch’s character. “Unlike [Donald Trump], he came off as someone devoted to law, not someone who believes he is above it.”

While characterizing Gorsuch’s qualifications for the job of a Justice as “off the charts,” Princeton University Professor of Jurisprudence Robert George also provides a personal insight to the Washington Post, vouching for the nominee’s character and hinting that he is remarkably tolerant. “Gorsuch went the extra mile in ensuring that his treatment of the work of other writers, especially those with whom he disagrees, was sympathetic and impeccably accurate.” George writes, “His sheer fair-mindedness was the thing I found most striking about working with him.”

In an American political realm of increasing obstruction and party polarization, it should be interesting to see how the Senate Democrats continue to react to the nomination of the constructive Neil Gorsuch, as well as how the media will continue to report on the nominee.

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