He appears to be supremely qualified—and may be in for the fight of his lifeby James D Zirin / February 2, 2017 / Leave a comment
Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch had all the earmarks of reality television or perhaps, more aptly, the crowning of Miss Universe.
The Trump presidency had stumbled at the gate over the travel ban on immigrants from seven majority Muslim countries. Protesters filled the streets. At least 13 lawsuits had been filed from coast to coast. Five federal judges had temporarily enjoined Trump’s executive order finding that there were significant constitutional questions of due process and equal protection. Trump had to fire the courageous acting Attorney General, Sally Yates, who refused to carry out his executive order, recalling the 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre” when Nixon fired the two senior officials of the Justice Department for refusing to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox.
Trump needed a respite from his troubles, a media event. So he moved the announcement up two days, and scheduled the event in prime time so he could make public the decision that was at the core of his election campaign—the nomination of a Justice who would “automatically” overrule the abortion decision Roe v. Wade. Currently, there are four conservative and four liberal Justices. Given that Supreme Court Justices sit for life, and there are two elderly Justices right now, Trump may have the opportunity to swing the balance of the Court for a generation. This nomination may be just the first step.
As though this would not have been drama enough, Trump invited to Washington the runner-up, Thomas Hardiman, like Gorsuch, a federal court of appeals judge. Hardiman was not at the White House for the Gorsuch announcement, but he was in the neighborhood, having driven from Pittsburgh, waiting in the wings, much as a Miss Universe finalist waits with baited breath for the envelope to be opened, only to dissolve in tearful disappointment.
Gorsuch’s résumé made him a “natural fit” for an appointment by a conservative Republican president. Educated at Columbia and Harvard Law School (he was a classmate of Barrack Obama), a Marshall Scholar at Oxford where he read constitutional law under John Finnis, a Catholic professor who elaborated a theory of natural law similar to that espoused by Clarence Thomas. He wrote his Oxford thesis, arguing against assisted suicide, a subject with which he has been preocciupied. His blue ribbon Ivy League credentials are similar to…