Justice Antonin Scalia, whether you loved him or despised him, was an absolute titan of the U.S. Supreme Court. He was an originalist and served for 29 years on the court.
In those 29 years, he had quite a few tremendous quotes. My favorite was when he called the Obamacare majority decision “pure applesauce.” He once used the phrase “jiggery-pokery” and he had said a parent’s first child is like a pancake.
Scalia will greatly be missed by those on the right, and I like to think that even those on the left will miss some of his fun moments on the court even if they did not agree with some of his rulings.
Justice Neil Gorsuch is not Scalia, and he has massive shoes to fill, but the University of Wisconsin College Republicans are excited about the future of the court and Gorsuch’s own reputation he will carve out for himself.
The nomination process may not have been smooth, but we now have nine justices again. In the process, it is important to know it was not Gorsuch’s record or decisions that were scrutinized, but rather Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to change the Senate rules that made headlines, and of course invited attacks from Senate Democrats.
It is also important to remember it was not Senate Republicans that opened the Pandora’s Box of changing the long-standing Senate rules, but rather former Senator Harry Reid, D-Nevada, who got the ball rolling back in 2011. Reid ended repeat filibusters and changed the standard of not messing with Senate rules.
At the end of the day, both parties can point the finger, but we now have nine justices again, and that’s what’s important.
So, what can we expect from Gorsuch? Well, us conservatives are excited President Donald Trump appointed an originalist. The University of San Diego School of Law defines originalism as “the view that the Constitution should be interpreted in accordance with its original meaning — that is, the meaning it had at the time of its enactment.”
Democrats tend not to appreciate the originalist view because they prefer the Constitution to be examined more as a “living document.” They view originalism as a mechanism by which Republicans allow themselves to make conservative decisions, instead of what it is.
Originalists know the only way to be consistent is to view the Constitution as former justices have for three centuries. The rule of law must be consistent for there to be true justice, and viewing the Constitution as a living document only leads to judicial activism and the potential for justices to impose their own view of the law.
There’s a reason the Founding Fathers created a Legislature: so unelected justices aren’t the ones writing legislation. Let the Legislature and the people decide laws, and let the justices rule on the constitutionality of those laws. Anything else leads to judicial overreach and the end of the rule of law.
Wisconsin legislators speak out against U.S. Supreme Court nomineeDemocratic Wisconsin legislators voiced their opposition to Judge Neil Gorsuch’s nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court in a phone conference Read…
All that being said, let’s look at some of the cases Gorsuch will see in the near future. He heard a case last Wednesday on an important religious freedom case, Trinity Lutheran Church v. Comer. The case deals with a Lutheran pre-school and its right to apply for government funding for the playground. The case is heralded as a landmark case for religious freedom, and Gorsuch is going to be a big player on the court.
It is safe to assume Gorsuch will break the tie for originalists in the decisions that would previously have been 4-4. He will set a reputation and role in the court very quickly with the decisions that were put on a slow track until there were nine justices.
Whether conservative or progressive, everyone should appreciate Gorsuch’s intellect and strong credentials to be on the Supreme Court. After all, he was confirmed unanimously by the Senate to the Circuit Court of Appeals in 2006. Conservatives know originalism isn’t everyone’s view of the role of the courts, but we know that it’s the most consistent and real form of justice there is.
We could not be more excited that we have nine justices again, and we’re looking forward to seeing Gorsuch hold up our constitutional liberties on the judicial branch’s biggest stage.
Jake Lubenow ([email protected]) is a junior majoring in political science and finance. He is the chair of UW College Republicans.
Read the counterpoint from UW College Democrats here.