U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill recently met with Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee. Although she remains tight-lipped about whether she’ll support his confirmation, it should be the easiest vote she makes in the U.S. Senate this year.
Judge Gorsuch is a brilliant judge with profound respect for the Constitution. After graduating from Columbia University in just three years, he earned a degree from Harvard Law School as well as a Ph.D. in philosophy from Oxford. He went on to clerk for Supreme Court Justices Byron White and Anthony Kennedy.
Judge Gorsuch is also a mainstream nominee who has received bipartisan support throughout his career. When he was nominated to the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006, senators on both sides of the aisle found him so uncontroversial that they unanimously confirmed him on a voice vote. Sens. Chuck Schumer, Dianne Feinstein, Ron Wyden, and nine other current Democratic senators were in office at the time of Judge Gorsuch’s confirmation.
Judge Gorsuch has continued that mainstream appeal throughout his tenure as a federal judge. Most importantly, he is known for his strict adherence to the text of the Constitution and his high regard for the Bill of Rights. He does not allow his own policy preferences to interfere with his interpretation of the law. “In our legal order it is for Congress and not the courts to write new laws,” he said, outlining a judicial philosophy that should hold broad appeal.
This philosophy has produced legal opinions that would please Americans of all political beliefs.
For one, Judge Gorsuch’s legal opinions err on side of defendants in criminal cases. Last year, he displayed his respect for the Fourth Amendment by dissenting from a ruling that allowed police officers to violate the “No Trespassing” signs posted around the house of a private citizen. “Our duty of fidelity to the law,” he wrote, “requires us to respect the ancient rights of the people when law enforcement exceeds their limits.”
In other cases, Judge Gorsuch has denounced the creeping power of regulatory agencies, including actions from the executive branch. He has questioned the “Chevron” doctrine, which allows unaccountable federal agencies broad discretion over the meaning of written law. The Chevron doctrine, he argues, is at odds with the Constitution’s separation of powers, which grants legislative authority to Congress alone.
Throughout his 10 years on the court, Judge Gorsuch has proven that he has the intellect and dedication to the law to make him a fitting replacement for the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Sen. McCaskill should have no reservations about supporting his confirmation to the Supreme Court.
Prior to the 2016 election, Sen. McCaskill herself argued for the pressing need to fill Justice Scalia’s vacant seat. “The Supreme Court has had a number of ties already,” she said. “They are not operating with a full complement, which means there are cases that are not being decided. They are just allowing the lower court decisions to stand because there is a 4-4 tie.”
Sen. McCaskill should heed her own words and help ensure the court’s vacancy is filled quickly. In doing so, she would have the support of her constituents.
Exit polls showed the Supreme Court was a top issue for voters during the election, and Missourians voted for Trump by a landslide. President Trump promised throughout the campaign to nominate a justice who would uphold the Constitution, and he fulfilled this promise in nominating Judge Gorsuch.
This should be the easiest vote Sen. McCaskill takes this year.