Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch is unquestionably President Trump’s biggest success so far. This was very apparent in the small handful of concurring opinions that Gorsuch participated in when SCOTUS announced their rulings and decisions last week.
Which means that the New York Times editorial board had to take the time to both complain about how conservative Justice Gorsuch is, and go on another whine-fest about how President Obama and Judge Merrick Garland were ROBBED of a seat that they had claimed dibs on.
The problem isn’t so much Justice Gorsuch’s judicial ideology, which is so far unsurprising. Presidents choose justices who they believe will rule in a way that aligns with their own views, and right-wing groups had long ago flagged Justice Gorsuch as a reliable conservative. He would surely have been a top choice of many Republican presidents. The problem is that he’s sitting in the seat that by rights should be occupied by Judge Garland. Had Mr. Garland been confirmed, the court would have had a majority of Democratic-appointed justices for the first time in almost half a century.
Instead, the court is back to a Republican-appointed majority, the consequences of which will only become more apparent next term, when the court is scheduled to hear high-profile cases involving partisan gerrymandering, Mr. Trump’s travel ban and religiously based challenges to anti-discrimination laws that protect same-sex couples.
That sound you hear is the world’s tiniest violin, playing for the Times editorial board.
First of all, Judge Garland didn’t have dibs on that SCOTUS seat. As Professor Jacobson at Legal Insurrection writes:
Nothing was stolen from anyone. Republicans controlled the Senate. They had the power and the right to stall a nomination, just like Democrats had done in the past. Because Republicans controlled the Senate, they didn’t need to “filibuster” a Supreme Court nominee the way Democrats just tried with Gorsuch. Regardless of whether Garland was going to get a hearing or a vote, Democrats didn’t have the votes to get him confirmed. Because elections have consequences, and Republicans took back the Senate in the 2014 elections.
It’s almost as of the Times editorial board doesn’t know how things work in the Senate. pic.twitter.com/H6n1CBYyNY
— Jay Caruso (@JayCaruso) July 2, 2017
And those who knew that the 2016 election was pivotal because of the potential of multiple seats on the court being vacated should feel completely vindicated now, especially when an outlet like NPR is bemoaning just how conservative Gorsuch is – why, he might be even more conservative than Scalia!
With every passing day, it has become more clear that President Trump’s first Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, is probably even more conservative than the justice he replaced, Antonin Scalia.
It is unusual to see a new justice’s ideological footprints so clearly in his first year or two on the high court. Indeed, most new justices, including those with long careers on the lower courts, are somewhat hesitant at first. They understand that the Supreme Court’s word is the final word, and that looking at issues from this new perspective is somewhat different from the perspective of a lower court judge, whose job is to carry out the mandates of a higher court.
But Justice Gorsuch seems both sure-footed and sure of himself and his views. Though he was confirmed in time to hear only the final two weeks of the term’s oral arguments, his votes and opinions in those cases — and others that the court has disposed of since he was sworn in — paint a vivid picture of a justice on the far right of the current Supreme Court bench.
No wonder there is a legitimate freak out going on over the possibility of Justice Anthony Kennedy’s retirement in another year. Whoever Trump chooses to replace Kennedy or Ginsburg (the two justices most likely to retire) is sure to go through an epic confirmation hearing that now, with the nuclear option exercised, may be largely toothless so long as the GOP can hold a simple majority in the Senate (not an easy task in this atmosphere).
But in the meantime, the NYT editorial board is just tasting the bitter vintage of their sour grapes. Frankly, they have bigger issues to be concerned about at the Times, so while the whining might be loud, it’s safe, predictable, and not libeling anyone.
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