President Donald Trump tonight has nominated pro-life friendly federal appeals court Judge Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. Gorsuch has taken the pro-life side in important cases and written a book excoriating assisted suicide.
The 49-year-old Judge Gorsuch, if confirmed, would replace pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia – who supporting overturning Roe v. Wade and allowing states to once again provide legal protection for unborn children.
Justice Gorsuch is currently a judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit, which includes the districts of Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, as well as the Eastern, Northern and Western districts of Oklahoma. He has served as a federal judge since August 2006 and was appointed by President George W. Bush and confirmed unanimously by the Senate.
The pro-life legal scholars who know him best say he is a strong originalist, believing that the Constitution should only be interpreted as the Founding Fathers intended. That would him squarely in the legal camp of Justice Scalia.
One of the biggest problems pro-life advocates have with the Supreme Court is that it invented a so-called right to abortion in Roe v. Wade. But Gorsuch’s writings indicate he opposes that kind of thinking. In a 2005 National Review article, Gorsuch wrote that liberals rely on the courts too much to made social policy.
This overweening addiction to the courtroom as the place to debate social policy is bad for the country and bad for the judiciary. In the legislative arena, especially when the country is closely divided, compromises tend to be the rule the day. But when judges rule this or that policy unconstitutional, there’s little room for compromise: One side must win, the other must lose. In constitutional litigation, too, experiments and pilot programs–real-world laboratories in which ideas can be assessed on the results they produce–are not possible. Ideas are tested only in the abstract world of legal briefs and lawyers arguments. As a society, we lose the benefit of the give-and-take of the political process and the flexibility of social experimentation that only the elected branches can provide.
He said liberal activists rely on the judicial system “as the primary means of effecting their social agenda on everything from gay marriage to assisted suicide to the use of vouchers for private-school education.”
On direct pro-life matters, Gorsuch sided with the state of Utah in its attempt to defund the Planned Parenthood abortion business.
Gorsuch sided with pro-life Utah Governor Gary Herbert’s effort to defund Planned Parenthood. After his decision, the 10th Circuit Court decided against re-hearing Planned Parenthood v. Gary Herbert, after the court previously ordered Utah to fund Planned Parenthood. Gorsch dissented in the case and wrote:
Respectfully, this case warrants rehearing. As it stands, the panel opinion leaves litigants in preliminary injunction disputes reason to worry that this court will sometimes deny deference to district court factual findings; relax the burden of proof by favoring attenuated causal claims our precedent disfavors; and invoke arguments for reversal untested by the parties, unsupported by the record, and inconsistent with principles of comity. Preliminary injunction disputes like this one recur regularly and ensuring certainty in the rules governing them, and demonstrating that we will apply those rules consistently to all matters that come before us, is of exceptional importance to the law, litigants, lower courts, and future panels alike. I respectfully dissent.
As National Review pro-life legal scholar Ed Whelan notes:
I’d like to take note of his remarkable failure to acknowledge, much less credit Gorsuch for, Gorsuch’s powerful dissent (see pp. 16-27 here) one month ago from the Tenth Circuit’s denial of rehearing en banc in Planned Parenthood Association of Utah v. Herbert. As the faithful reader will recall from these posts of mine, in the aftermath of the Center for Medical Progress’s release of videos depicting various Planned Parenthood affiliates’ ugly involvement in harvesting body parts, Utah governor Gary Herbert directed state agencies “to cease acting as an intermediary for pass-through federal funds” to Planned Parenthood’s Utah affiliate. But after the district court denied Planned Parenthood’s request for a preliminary injunction against Herbert’s directive, a divided panel, on very weak reasoning, ruled that Planned Parenthood was entitled to a preliminary injunction. Gorsuch’s dissent dismantles the panel majority’s reasoning.
Would a Supreme Court Justice Gorsuch be inclined to overturn the decades-old decision fostering abortion on demand? His record suggests he is open to doing so.
In the panel ruling in Games-Perez, Gorsuch did indeed regard himself as bound to abide by controlling circuit precedent, just as nearly every circuit judge not named Stephen Reinhardt also does. But Gorsuch didn’t stop there. In a 20-page opinion, he urged the en banc Tenth Circuit to reconsider and overrule the wrong precedent.
Gorsuch also has made pro-life comments about abortion and strongly opposes assisted suicide. He has written a book, The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia, which (as Princeton University Press puts it) “builds a nuanced, novel, and powerful moral and legal argument against legalization [of assisted suicide and euthanasia], one based on a principle that, surprisingly, has largely been overlooked in the debate—the idea that human life is intrinsically valuable and that intentional killing is always wrong.”
Meanwhile, as National Review reports, “Gorsuch wrote a powerful dissent from the denial of rehearing en banc in a case involving funding of Planned Parenthood.” NR indicates Gorsuch has written “human life is fundamentally and inherently valuable, and that the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”
Democrats have already promised to filibuster any Supreme Court nominee.
Sen. Jeff Merkle, a pro-abortion Oregon Democrat, said in an interview on Monday morning that he will filibuster any pick other than pro-abortion Judge Merrick garland — who pro-abortion president Barack Obama named to replace pro-life Justice Antonin Scalia.
“This is a stolen seat. This is the first time a Senate majority has stolen a seat,” Merkley said in an interview. “We will use every lever in our power to stop this.”
Gorsuch is 49 years old. He and his wife, Louise, have two daughters and live in Boulder, Colorado.