The Trump Administration has bungled almost every major administrative task and duty since Inauguration Day. From Kellyanne Conway’s “alternative facts,” to Sean Spicer’s 1984-esque news conferences, to Michael Flynn’s resignation, to Jeff Sessions’ Russia connection, to the president’s many deranged and lunatic comments (see Obama wiretapping and fraudulent voter claims), the last two months seem to be straight out of an episode of “Looney Tunes.” As a Republican, I am ashamed that my party willing stands behind a man who so vehemently opposes fundamental American values such as freedom of the press, transparency and freedom of thought. As an American, I am embarrassed that Trump’s lunacy dominates the headlines of foreign newspapers and endangers the global perception of our nation.
Yet despite the endless stream of scandals and dysfunction, the president has made one very good call during his brief time in the White House: nominating Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
First, and foremost, Judge Gorsuch is, without question, extremely qualified to serve on the Court. A graduate of Columbia, Harvard Law School and Oxford, Gorsuch clerked for Justice Anthony Kennedy, served as a litigator at the Department of Justice and currently sits on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals. His decisions during his decade-long service on the Tenth Circuit have covered a myriad of issues, including: religious freedom, the death penalty, economic regulation, freedom of speech, financial fraud and campaign finance. In fact, Judge Gorsuch is so qualified for a position on the Court that the American Bar Association rated Gorsuch as “well-qualified” –– their highest rating –– to fill Scalia’s seat.
But beyond Gorsuch’s qualifications, the judge has consistently proven himself to be a man of great intellect and mild temperament. His willingness to work with others, respect colleagues with differing opinions and cross partisan lines to achieve a fair and balanced settlement is exactly the kind of thinking and attitude that is needed in Washington. In the wake of an ever-growing partisan divide in American politics, it is essential that the judiciary remain a beacon of civility and humility –– and Judge Gorsuch is, in every way imaginable, the embodiment of civility and humility.
Of course, few people criticize Gorsuch for his temperament or qualifications. On paper, he appears to be the perfect candidate for the Supreme Court. The real opposition to Gorsuch is embedded in a deep-seeded anger towards Republican opposition to another, highly-qualified nominee to the Court: Merrick Garland.
Like Gorsuch, Garland appeared to be the perfect Supreme Court candidate. The mild-mannered Harvard Law valedictorian and D.C. Circuit Chief Judge was just as qualified, and just as temperamentally fit to serve as Gorsuch. Despite this, the Republican-controlled Senate blockaded Garland’s nomination. Because of this obstruction, Democrats seem to want revenge –– they want Republicans to pay for what they did to Garland.
First of all, I understand Democrats’ frustration. I firmly believe that Judge Garland should have received the confirmation hearing to which he was entitled. However, I also believe that government cannot function if each party is always trying to seek retribution for past misdeeds. There are countless examples in which the Democratic-controlled Senate engaged in tactics that many considered to be unethical and inherently unfair to the Republican minority. Revenge, in my opinion, cannot be the operating foundation of our legislature.
Furthermore, blockading a Gorsuch confirmation is inherently unfair to the American people. The current eight-justice composition of the Supreme Court has created an environment that has resulted in several evenly-split decisions. These decisions effectively render the Court useless, as a split decision ultimately results in the Court upholding the lower court’s decision. To ensure that the American judicial system is properly functioning, the Court must return to its nine-member composition –– a feat that can only be achieved through a Gorsuch confirmation.
Finally, preventing Gorsuch’s confirmation could have dire consequences for the future of the Senate. Once called “the world’s most deliberative body,” the Senate has now descended into a state of intense partisan divide and political bickering. By attempting to prevent another Supreme Court nomination from proceeding, Senate Democrats will only deepen the divide within the Senate’s chambers.
Overall, Neil Gorsuch is the right person to fill Antonin Scalia’s seat on the Supreme Court. Gorsuch’s nomination will not change the partisan composition of the bench –– there will still be four liberals, one moderate, and four conservatives on the bench –– and his immense personal and professional qualifications for the post will only enhance the collegiality and reputation of the Court. There are, in my view, few other individuals who are as prepared to take a seat on the United States Supreme Court as Judge Gorsuch.
Michael Glanzel is a junior in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at mglanzel[email protected] Cornell Shrugged runs every other Thursday this semester.