This op-ed was originally published at the Washington Examiner on January 31, 2017.
President Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch, is a solid replacement and a worthy successor to Justice Antonin Scalia, who, for nearly 30 years, was a staunch defender of constructionism and textualism on the High Court. The Senate has the opportunity to fill Scalia’s seat with someone who reflects his approach to the Constitution.
Unfortunately, Senate Democrats are pitching a collective fit, pledging to filibuster Gorsuch’s nomination. Some have gone so far as to vow to filibuster anyone Trump nominates.
This coming from a party who, throughout the course of President Barack Obama’s presidency, reminded Republicans that Obama won the 2008 election and reelection in 2012 and more than suggested that he should get his way on nominees, no questions asked.
Senate Democrats have clearly plotted a course of obstructionism on nearly every cabinet nominee. The #DoYourJob Party actually boycotted an official hearing. It’s clear that Trump’s Supreme Court pick will get the same sad treatment.
Without question, Gorsuch is qualified to serve on the Supreme Court. Appointed by President George W. Bush in May 2006 to serve on the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, Gorsuch has proved himself to be in the mold of Justice Scalia, both in his approach to the Constitution and insightful, often humorous, writings. He rejects the Supreme Court’s Chevron deference, which required federal courts to defer to regulatory agencies’ interpretations of “silent or ambiguous” statutes.
Gorsuch’s approach to criminal law is strikingly similar to Scalia, supporting mens rea, or criminal intent, when an individual unwittingly breaks the law.
In addition to his judicial record and the similarities to Scalia, Trump’s selection of Gorsuch is important for other reasons. Even if candidate Trump said things or held policy positions with which they disagreed, many conservatives voted for him for one reason and one reason alone: preserving the Supreme Court. His campaign promise to nominate judges similar to Scalia, at least with this pick, has been fulfilled.
Still, the hard work of pushing Gorsuch’s nomination through the Senate now begins. While Senate Democrats may have gutted the 60-vote threshold to filibuster executive branch and lower federal court nominees, it remains in place for Supreme Court nominees. Conservative grassroots activists have our work cut out for us. Liberals like Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., aren’t going to make this an easy process.
The Constitution and the Bill of Rights are at stake for this generation and the next. If we want to see the limits on the federal government enforced, we must mobilize to support Gorsuch to serve as the next associate justice on the Supreme Court.
Jason Pye (@pye) is a contributor to the Washington Examiner’s Beltway Confidential blog. He is the director of public policy and legislative affairs for FreedomWorks.