Since the inauguration of Donald Trump, the forty-fifth president of the United States, on Friday, January 20, the country’s new president has already accomplished
many of his Day One promises that he made throughout his campaign trail. Some of the executive changes that have been occurring include actions taken relating to the illegalization of abortion, clearing roadblocks for controversial oil pipelines, executive orders involving immigration, the Affordable Care Act rollback, and regulations on small businesses and manufacturing. Another decision of Trump’s that has people stirring with many mixed emotions is his Supreme Court pick, Judge Neil Gorsuch.
Some worry that Gorsuch’s beliefs in originalism make him too similar to the late Justice Antonin Scalia and his highly conservative beliefs, whereas others agree with the nomination and are thrilled with the idea of having another originalist on the Supreme Court. Robert Barnes, the Washington Post’s Supreme Court reporter, said about Gorsuch, “Like Scalia, Gorsuch is a proponent of originalism — meaning that judges should attempt to interpret the words of the Constitution as they were understood at the time they were written — and a textualist who considers only the words of the law being reviewed, not legislators’ intent or the consequences of the decision.” Predominantly, conservatives like Gorsuch because his legal reasoning aligns with their most basic political beliefs, much like many Republicans agreed with Scalia and his political views and opinions.
Justice Scalia, who was appointed to the Supreme Court in 1982 by Ronald Reagan, was considered by many to be an originalist. When asked to describe originalism, Scalia famously said, “The Constitution that I interpret and apply is not living but dead, or as I prefer to call it, enduring. It means today not what current society, much less the court, thinks it ought to mean, but what it meant when it was adopted.” Although Scalia was considered by people nationwide to be extremely contentious and uncivil, multiple people, including the very liberal Ruth Bader Ginsburg, have described him as being modest, endearing, and humorous. Ginsburg even went so far as to call the two “best buddies.” Despite her positive opinion of Scalia as an individual, she generally strongly disagrees with the Republican Party as a whole. She has also been very critical of Donald Trump, she said, “He is a faker. He has no consistency about him. He says whatever comes into his head at the moment. He really has an ego. How has he gotten away with not turning over his tax returns? The press seems to be very gentle with him on that.” Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court has very similar politics to Trump as well as very similar political beliefs to those that Justice Scalia had.
Judge Neil Gorsuch has attended numerous prestigious schools, including Columbia University, Harvard University, and Oxford University. He clerked for two Supreme Courts justices and did a stint at the Department of Justice. He was, for a time, a partner with the Washington law firm Kellogg Huber Hansen Todd Evans & Figel. In the past, Gorsuch has been known to take the sides of religious organizations that oppose parts of the Affordable Care Act. Since 2006, he has served on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals in Colorado.
Although there have been various voices nationwide speaking out about who they believe should be appointed to the Supreme Court, Trump has overall seemed quite certain that he knew what he was looking for from the start. When describing his process of choosing a nomination for Supreme Court justice, Trump stated that “the late, great Justice Antonin Scalia was in mind throughout the decision-making process.” Over the years, the United States has seen many highly educated and ambitious leaders take on the role of Supreme Court justice. Whether Gorsuch will follow in the footsteps of what the people of America believe to be the greatest remains unknown. In many ways, he is a very traditional and fairly expected pick for the Republicans. While a large number of people are skeptical of Trump’s choice, many are also fully in support and are eager to see more of Scalia’s originalist beliefs take their place, once again, in the Supreme Court of the United States.
By Rachel Clift