On Tuesday evening, President Donald J. Trump introduced the nation to Judge Neil Gorsuch, his nomination for the Supreme Court. During the campaign, Trump promised his supporters that he would nominate a "pro-life" conservative judge. However, when he nominated Gorsuch, his views on reproductive rights were missing from his speech.
This left many wondering: Who is Neil Gorsuch and what does he believe?
Gorsuch is a federal judge from Colorado with many years of experience. Of the 21 potential nominees that Trump revealed during the campaign, Gorsuch received much praise and backing from GOP senators.
Much like his predecessor Antonin Scalia, Gorsuch is known as a "texualist," meaning he defends the original understanding of the Constitution and how it informs opinions and law. Instead of looking into the social implications of a casce, Gorsuch has been known to look specifically into the wording of the case and how the onstitution does or does not defend an argument.
Additionally, many believe that Neil Gorsuch, based on his record, is actually more conservative than Scalia was.
When it comes to some hot button issues, Gorsuch has not necessarily been very vocal about his personal stance; however, his 10-year record as a judge in Colorado's 10th Circuit lends insight into where he may fall.
Although Gorsuch has not spoken out about Roe v. Wade specifically, other actions on the Colorado bench made many conservative writers feel that he would lean towards their beliefs when it comes to reproductive rights.
As a judge, Gorsuch wanted to review a case wherein Utah tried to stop giving Planned Parenthood federal funds and, as a result, Planned Parenthood received an injunction which allowed them to combat Utah’s action. Conservatives believed that Gorsuch wanting to review the case meant that he sided with the state of Utah.
However, other conservative writers believe that because Gorsuch has never used the term “unborn child” in opinions and follows the Episcopalian denomination, he may not be as pro-life as hoped.
Additionally, Gorsuch is known for siding with Hobby Lobby in a Supreme Court case that ruled that businesses should not be mandated to provide contraceptive insurance coverage for employees if it violated the religious beliefs and freedoms of employers.
While on the bench in Colorado, Gorsuch did not have any cases that addressed LGBT rights. However, in a 2005 National Review article, Gorsuch wrote that LGBT rights were being argued too frequently in court and should be decided through elections. Gorsuch wrote, in part:
“But rather than use the judiciary for extraordinary cases, von Drehle recognizes that American liberals have become addicted to the courtroom, relying on judges and lawyers rather than elected leaders and the ballot box, as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
“Liberals may win a victory on gay marriage when preaching to the choir before like-minded judges in Massachusetts. But in failing to reach out and persuade the public generally, they invite exactly the sort of backlash we saw in November when gay marriage was rejected in all eleven states where it was on the ballot.”
Although he has stated his opinion on where LGBT rights should be decided, he has not offered an explicit opinion on where he stands on the issue.
Once again, when it comes to guns, Gorsuch does also not have any rulings on explicit gun legislation.
During a 2012 case surrounding whether or not a felon had to know about his conviction in order to be prosecuted for having a firearm, Gorsuch asked the court to review its decision. As far as anyone can assume, this may mean that he could be on the side of criminal defendants and their rights.
Right now, immigration is one of the most important issues facing the country under a Trump presidency. However, Gorsuch has not been seen to review any cases dealing with immigration.
In a written opinion reported last year, Gorsuch wrote in disagreement with a precedent that ordered judges to defer to federal agencies’ opinions when laws from Congress are ambiguous.
This means that Gorsuch does not believe that when lawmakers introduce policies about anything, including immigration, and a judge is unclear about it, they should refer to federal agencies. Basically, Gorsuch feels that the original creators of the Constitution attempted to make sure no one branch of government had too much power and the country should feel the same way.
As a judge from Colorado, where recreational marijuana is now legal, many wonder where Gorsuch will fall on the national legalization and decriminalization of the drug. Right now, it seems that Gorsuch will be more indebted to the decisions of the Justice Department to prosecute or not prosecute people for marijuana charges rather than offering his own opinions on the drug.
Although Gorsuch is known for being extremely conservative, it's odd that his stance on the most hot-button issues is widely unknown. This could mean one of two things:
1. He surprises us and is more fair when than we all assumed.
2. He, much like many of Trump's picks, is a total mystery and we will have to wait until moments present themselves to find out exactly where he stands.
Here's hoping for the former.
(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
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