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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

August 23, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

ColumnsElephant in the Room

Confirm Neil Gorsuch

Just over a year ago, the U.S. Supreme Court lost a legal giant with Associate Justice Antonin Scalia’s death. The debate over whether his seat would be filled by former President Barack Obama’s pick or be delayed until after the election began instantaneously. Hypocrisy on both sides of the aisle concerning judicial appointments was abundant. I supported the Senate’s holding a vote on Merrick Garland, a well-qualified candidate. The Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, decided to take a risk by refusing to hold a vote and betting that a Republican would win the White House in November.

That gamble paid off with a Republican president now in office, albeit not the one most establishment Republicans had hoped for. Yet President Donald Trump surprised and pleased conservatives with his choice of Neil Gorsuch to fill the vacant seat. A witty and skilled writer, Gorsuch first expressed his opinions as a columnist for his college newspaper. Through captivating narratives and occasional humor, he is known for making his decisions engaging and accessible to all audiences. And like Scalia, Gorsuch believes in an originalist approach to the Constitution.

Democrats are mounting a struggling campaign to disparage Gorsuch. Liberal activists are pushing Senate Democrats to oppose the nomination and threatening those who vote for him with repercussions. The problem, however, is that there is little to hold against Gorsuch. He was unanimously confirmed for a U.S. Court of Appeals seat in 2006 by a Senate that included Obama, then-Sen. Hillary Clinton and nowSenate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. Gorsuch has also received praise from Neal Katyal, an acting solicitor general under Obama.

Senate Democrats have every right to vote against Gorsuch and use the filibuster if they are so inclined, but this isn’t the time for a fight. Throwing a fit over a nominee as qualified as Gorsuch could delegitimize Democrats’ future opposition if Trump gets the opportunity to choose a second justice. Gorsuch is a brilliant and competent judge, not an extremist. During his confirmation hearing March 21, Gorsuch said he would have no problem ruling against any political party or politician. Gorsuch is committed to the rule of law, not a political ideology. As he said when Trump nominated him, “A judge who likes every outcome he reaches is very likely a bad judge, stretching for results he prefers rather than those the law demands.” Gorsuch is an exemplary judge and deserves to be confirmed.

Kyle Stewart can be reached at kstewart1@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @KyleStew107