Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Letter of February 2017


It’s been an eventful two weeks. But of all the things President Trump is doing in his first days in office, the one that will last the longest is his choice for Supreme Court. I write in support of the President’s nominee, Neil Gorsuch of Colorado.

When President Trump nominated Judge Gorsuch, the Democrats, led by Chuck Schumer, dusted off their old arguments against a judge outside the so-called “legal mainstream.” This is an attack they use against every Republican nominee, and it’s fair to say that “in the mainstream” is nothing more than a euphemism for “agrees with Democrats.”. To really understand what Democrats want in a Justice, (and what Trump is refusing to give them), I think it’s good to compare the record of a so-called mainstream Justice with one whom the Democrats label as a conservative radical.

First, the mainstream judge. John Paul Stevens was nominated by a moderate Republican president, Gerald Ford, in 1975. Ford considered several candidates for the seat, but chose the one he knew wouldn’t provoke opposition in the Democratic Senate. Stevens was easily confirmed.

  • Justice Stevens sometimes sided with litigants who claimed their religious liberty had been violated, but only when that religion wasn’t Christianity or Judaism.
  • Stevens dissented from the Citizens United ruling. In his view, freedom of speech doesn’t apply to “electioneering communications” — in this case, a movie made by the nonprofit group Citizens United that criticized Hillary Clinton.
  • Justice Stevens never acknowledged Second or Tenth Amendment rights.
  • In 1980, Stevens’ side of the Court tried to force the federal government to fund abortions over the objections of Congress, but came one vote short of a majority.

In the minds of most Democrats, Antonin Scalia was a conservative radical, about as different from Stevens as a judge could be. One might ask what beliefs of his were so radical?

  • Antonin Scalia and the other conservative Justices have consistently upheld the religious liberty of all Americans, whether they were Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Wiccan, or Animist.
  • Scalia believed in freedom of speech for everyone — in his view, the First Amendment protects Citizens United’s criticism of Hillary Clinton, as well as protecting the rights of flag burners or funeral picketers.
  • Justice Scalia revived the Second and Tenth Amendments, insisting that they were as much a part of the Constitution in our day as when they were ratified.

Donald Trump chose Neil Gorsuch to succeed Scalia because he has consistently stood up for Scalia’s principles. Anyone concerned with fairness and impartiality on the Supreme Court should call their Senators and urge support for Judge Gorsuch.

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