Gorsuch should be on the court

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, April 5, 2017

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

“When we judges don our robes, it doesn’t make us any smarter, but it does serve as a reminder of what’s expected of us: Impartiality and independence, collegiality and courage.”

Those are the words of Neil Gorsuch, a current judge on the United States Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit. Earlier this year, President Donald Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch to serve on the Supreme Court.

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The seat on the Supreme Court became available after Judge Antonin Scalia passed away unexpectedly last year. Justice Scalia was a legal stalwart, and his “originalist” view of the Constitution fundamentally altered our nation’s judiciary.

Justice Scalia made many landmarks rulings, including clarifying that every American has a clear Second Amendment right to own and bear firearms. It is critical that the person who replaces him on the Supreme Court have the same appreciation for our nation’s Constitution and laws.

Judge Gorsuch is exactly that type of judge. He does not base his opinions off any political ideology or background. He simply looks at what the law says and does not attempt to rewrite the law through judicial activism.

In fact, Judge Gorsuch once wrote that “in our system, it is for the Congress rather than the Courts to write the laws.” This fundamental understanding of our system of government is critical for the next member of the Supreme Court.

As a member of the House of Representatives, I will not have the opportunity to vote to confirm Judge Gorsuch; that is a responsibility reserved for members of the Senate. But, I am closely following the process, as every American should be.

The Supreme Court is currently tied 4-4, and the next member of the court has the ability to restore the conservative balance that existed prior to Scalia’s death. That makes it even more important that Judge Gorsuch be confirmed.

Like everything today, I know people are playing politics with the nomination, but this issue is too important for it to get bogged down in petty political fights. Judge Gorsuch is a mainstream and commonsense pick for our nation’s highest court.

In fact, when Judge Gorsuch was first nominated to the 10th Circuit Court in 2006, he was confirmed by a voice vote. Not a single Senator objected to his nomination. On the 10th Circuit, he has a clear track record of being balanced, fair and unbiased. Out of the eight cases he decided that were reviewed by the Supreme Court, seven were affirmed and upheld. He also has a very low rate of other judges dissenting from his opinions.

From the start, the nomination process has been incredibly open and transparent. President Trump released a list during the campaign of the judges he would consider appointing to the Supreme Court, and Judge Gorsuch was on the list. When the American people elected President Trump, they did so knowing the type of person he would appoint to the Court.

Judge Gorsuch has done everything asked of him in the process. He participated in a twenty hour confirmation hearing in March, answered over 70 pages of written questions, gave Senators over 75,000 pages of documents relating to his legal career, and produced over 180,000 pages of emails from his time in the Department of Justice.

With all the different stories in the news today, it might be easy to miss the Supreme Court nomination, but this decision is quite possible the most consequential of all the different issues facing our nation.

Ultimately, I hope the Senate will vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch and place a balanced, thoughtful and original judge on the Supreme Court.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.