The ongoing left-wing furor over President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee — 49-year-old Neil Gorsuch, who currently serves as a judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals — is absurd on a number of levels, but it is especially illustrative of progressives’ fundamental misunderstanding of the Court’s role and function.
The Left has a love-hate relationship with judicial activism. Though Democrats wholeheartedly embrace and enforce the idea of a “living Constitution” when it enables the Court to mysteriously discover rights to abortion and same-sex marriage, they become incensed when they fear that a similar activist jurisprudence might be used to reach conclusions they dislike.
Enter Neil Gorsuch. Because progressives have so deeply bought into the notion that the members of the Court are, in essence, nine representatives of the people put in place for life, it becomes imperative for them to keep that unlimited legislative power in their control. Now that Trump is poised to replace one so-called “conservative” justice — the late Antonin Scalia — with another “conservative,” their panic is nearly uncontrollable. Some choice examples of progressive panic from the days following the Gorsuch announcement:
Judge Gorsuch doesn’t represent my values & isn’t right for SCOTUS. Senate Dems should give him same consideration afforded Merrick Garland.— Rep. Nydia Velazquez (@NydiaVelazquez) February 1, 2017
Meanwhile, Vox editor Ezra Klein described Gorsuch as “an extremely conservative judge at a moment when an extremely conservative judge makes a mockery of the public will.” Klein concludes his piece saying, “The Supreme Court is undemocratic enough as it is,” and he argues that confirming Gorsuch would make it more so. Klein, like these pro-abortion groups and Democratic politicians, has fully accepted an inaccurate view of the Court’s role and, furthermore, fundamentally misunderstands Gorsuch’s jurisprudence.
The fact that the Left is so terrified of Gorsuch’s personal views demonstrates their fatally flawed view of the courts, namely that judges have the authority to legislate their personal views through their judicial decisions. In fact, Supreme Court justices aren’t meant to be “representing” anyone, and it only matters that the Court is an “undemocratic” institution because progressive jurisprudence has allowed its function to morph into that of a panel of unelected representatives. If the justices interpreted the Constitution and applied it to cases impartially — rather than fabricating rights not present in the document that the American Left wants to instantiate undemocratically — the personal political views of each justice would cease to be relevant.
In addition, critiques of Gorsuch as a “conservative” who “opposes” birth control, abortion, and same-sex marriage are woefully incorrect. The proper understanding of the Court, as a neutral adjudicating body rather than a legislature, assures that his personal views wouldn’t become at all relevant to his decision-making. On top of that, Gorsuch — more than any other nominee or justice since Scalia, and more than any other candidate on Trump’s list — will not be guilty of imposing his personal beliefs through the force of his rulings.
As a constitutional originalist, Gorsuch sees the Court precisely as that apolitical adjudicating body that refrains from crafting policy or enforcing its undemocratic will on the people. He is the last justice that would impose his personal opinions through his authority on the Court. In reality, progressives ought to worry that Gorsuch will rule contrary to their desired ends — legalized abortion; government-mandated, free-from-cost contraception; nationally enforced same-sex marriage — because those ends are not found anywhere in the Constitution.