Law & the Courts

Gorsuch Has Never Ruled on Abortion, but Try Telling the Panicked Left

Neil Gorsuch approaches a podium to speak after being nominated to be an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court (Reuters: Carlos Barria)
If they hate Trump, they should love the judge known for upholding limits on executive power.

In the two weeks since President Donald Trump was inaugurated, the Left has somehow managed to disintegrate even further into a wailing mass of extreme frenzy, finding fault with nearly every action that Trump and his administration have taken, and shrieking constantly about its newfound passion for federalism and constitutional order. The latest fit of hysterics erupted on Tuesday night after Trump announced his pick to fill the late justice Antonin Scalia’s vacant seat on the Supreme Court: Judge Neil Gorsuch of the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals.

The most baldly political critiques have been of Gorsuch’s supposed animosity toward “women’s rights” and of his assumed opposition to the Supreme Court’s decision in Roe v. Wade. In the wake of Trump’s announcement, the pro-abortion Left dissolved into anguish on Twitter:

Meanwhile, Planned Parenthood — and its president, Cecile Richards — maintained that anyone who doesn’t support Roe is inherently unqualified to serve on the Court.

Politico Europe thought it appropriate to describe the Supreme Court pick as “49-year-old anti-abortion judge Neil Gorsuch,” despite the fact that he has never ruled on a single case involving abortion. Along with Schumer, Sanders, and other incensed Democratic senators, Ron Wyden piled on criticism for the nominee, asserting that Gorsuch doesn’t support “fundamental constitutional rights” — likely his way of warning that Gorsuch might not support a regime of abortion-on-demand and therefore shouldn’t be confirmed.

This intense left-wing outrage is, as usual, completely overblown. For one thing, Gorsuch has never ruled in an abortion-rights case and so has no judicial position on the issue. Moreover, the progressive tantrum over this nomination reveals a fundamental misunderstanding of the role of the judiciary: A justice’s personal political opinions should have no bearing on the way he rules in any given case. And this is true of Gorsuch more than most judges; he’s not an ideologue, he’s a constitutional originalist. What’s more, by lamenting that he opposes women’s right to contraception or abortion, progressives could be implicitly admitting that they know how weak the case for Roe really is; even Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has admitted that the legal reasoning in Roe is flawed.

Their frenzy likewise shows that Democrats are continuing to make abortion and birth control the sacraments of their party. Though Gorsuch is more than qualified and is supported by many on the left because of his stellar record, many progressives within the party will refuse to support him because they fear he would walk back the all-important “bodily autonomy” of women. In so doing, they will betray their lack of sincerity about the threat that Trump supposedly poses to a flourishing democratic society. For months the Left has been telling us that Trump is an authoritarian strongman, a racist and a bigot, a fascist in the vein of Adolf Hitler. If these concerns were serious, wouldn’t Democrats be falling over themselves to support for the Supreme Court a man known for respecting the Constitution and limiting the power of the federal government and the executive?

Instead, the episode serves as further confirmation that the Left has placed abortion and birth-control rights on a marble pedestal above all else. And in service to these unrelenting masters, Democrats have had to forsake their desire to restrain Trump by any means possible, renouncing their ability to offer sane critiques of a highly qualified candidate.

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