Opinion: Neil Gorsuch is a strong SCOTUS pick

Jacob Tabler is a junior political science major and a member of the Kent State College Republicans. Contact him at [email protected].

Jacob Tabler

On Monday, March 20, hearings began in the Senate Committee on the Judiciary regarding the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat of the United States Supreme Court.

Judge Gorsuch is a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals, and his judicial style resembles the late Justice Antonin Scalia.

However, Democrats have attempted to depict Gorsuch as a radical corporatist. Here is why President Trump’s nominee is a strong pick to fill the vacant seat on the Supreme Court:

It is important to define what textualism is. In my view, textualism is governed by three defining characteristics.

The first is simply that judges are bound to the text, and text is the only relevant thing when answering questions of constitutionality.

The second is a rule for interpreting text. It states that the words of a text are to be interpreted how any reasonable person at the time would have interpreted it. However, a reasonable person means a lawyer or legislator at the time.

The third characteristic is a restriction on the judges. It states that judges cannot consider the consequences of the law. Judges can only consider what the text says. They are also restricted from acting as the legislature and writing in laws in order to ensure that the political biases of the judge are left out.

There is a very controversial case that demonstrates how Judge Gorsuch approaches legal questions.

During his time on the Court of Appeals, Gorsuch presided over the case Hobby Lobby v. Sebelius (2013) before it reached the Supreme Court.

Hobby Lobby objected to the Obamacare mandate that health plans must cover contraceptives. He looked to the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), written by Rep. Chuck Schumer in 1993, as the statute in question.

The legal question that needed answering was simple: Do these laws apply to corporations?

The statute included the word “person” without a definition. He did not want to define the term as a judge, but he wanted a reasonable meaning of person.

Therefore, he looked to the dictionary act that clarified terms. There, they defined persons, the word in question, to include corporations.

He reasoned that corporations like Hobby Lobby had a right to the RFRA under this interpretation.

He also reasoned the government had no compelling interest in restricting their freedom. Therefore, they do not have to cover contraceptives. He then stated that the law could be changed under Congress to clarify the language, but that job was not the duty of the judiciary.

Democrats do not regard textualism and the legal decisions of Judge Gorsuch in the same manner as a conservative.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren accused the nominee of being “more radical than Justice Scalia was.”

However, in cases like Hobby Lobby v. Sibelius, he proves his textual application of the law.

He defended religious freedom in cases such as Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell. He speaks out against the Chevron Doctrine, which consolidated too much power to the executive bureaucracy. He has even stated he will not look to overturn Roe v. Wade if the president asks him to because it serves as precedent within the Supreme Court.

Overall, Judge Gorsuch has demonstrated he tries to interpret the Constitution as it was written and does not want any branch of government to overstep its bounds.

The accusation that he is radical is false.

I suggest that the more radical view is that the judiciary can interpret the law to mean what they believe has the best policy outcome and take the place of the legislature.

Neil Gorsuch is a strong nominee for the Supreme Court and a suitable replacement for the late Justice Scalia.

Jacob Tabler is a member of the College Republicans, contact him at [email protected].