In keeping with the heavily politicized nature of the Supreme Court nomination process, the party drumbeats are fast reaching a crescendo in support of and opposition to Judge Neil Gorsuch.
As Judge Gorsuch faces the music this week before Congress, a few notes to keep in mind:
1. A lot of people who disagree with him still recognize him as an outstanding judge.
When Gorsuch was named to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit a decade ago, he was confirmed by a unanimous voice vote. The American Bar Association – a veritable bastion of liberal politics – recently gave Gorsuch its highest rating. And Neal Katyal, an acting solicitor general during the Obama administration, has publicly endorsed Gorsuch and encouraged other liberals to do so.
2. In his style and substance, he is often compared to Justice Antonin Scalia – whose views of the law Gorsuch much admires.
In a tribute to Justice Scalia after his death, Judge Gorsuch praised Scalia’s views on Originalism, which he summarized as:
"Judges should … strive (if humanly and so imperfectly) to apply the law as it is, focusing backward, not forward, and looking to text, structure, and history to decide what a reasonable reader at the time of the events in question would have understood the law to be — not to decide cases based on their own moral convictions or the policy consequences they believe might serve society best."
3. He has written a book on assisted suicide and euthanasia.
In The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, Judge Gorsuch wrote that “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and … the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.” If he’s approved to the high court by Congress, his views on these topics could have bearing on Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) cases like this one.
4. His past rulings have upheld religious freedom.
Judge Gorsuch wrote a concurring opinion in Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc. v Sebelius, a Tenth Circuit decision that was upheld at the U.S. Supreme Court. That case was bundled with Conestoga Wood Specialities v. Burwell, in which ADF, representing the Hahn family, successfully defended before the Supreme Court the right of closely held for-profit corporations to conduct business in keeping with the owners’ religious beliefs.
Gorsuch also joined a dissenting opinion in the famous Little Sisters of the Poor case, after a three-judge panel of his court issued a ruling that threatened to force the Little Sisters to violate their faith convictions.
"Nobody speaks for me, nobody," Judge Gorsuch said, at one point during this week’s Congressional hearings. "I speak for myself." So does his record – which, in the end, is all those trying to anticipate his future Supreme Court votes have to go by.