The Rightful Heir

 Justice Neil Gorsuch will carry forward the foundational concepts of his predecessor and of the Constitution.

Connor Fiddler, Columnist

With the sudden passing of Supreme Court Associate Judge Antonin Scalia in February of last year, the American people have gone through a whirlwind trying to determine who will replace him.

Former President Barack Obama nominated Merrick Garland, but Senate Republicans invoked the Biden Rule. This essentially prohibited the nomination of Garland. They thought it would be more appropriate for the next president to nominate someone.

Then, with the assumed victory of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the discussion gravitated towards who Clinton would nominate. This discussion was quickly curbed by Donald Trump’s electoral win. He nominated Judge Neil Gorsuch of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit based in Denver, Colorado.

Senate Democrats were hypocritical in resisting Judge Gorsuch, despite the fact that he was unanimously confirmed back in 2006 when former President George W. Bush nominated him for the 10th Circuit. New York Senator and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer was immature in announcing his resistance to any Trump Supreme Court nominee before anyone was named.

However, considering that Gorsuch is essentially a shoe-in, petty Senate politics are not important. What is important is what this nomination means for the future of the Supreme Court and the American people.

Gorsuch is the perfect successor to Antonin Scalia. With his impeccable background that includes a bachelor’s degree from Columbia, a Harvard Law degree, and a scholarship to Oxford University, no one can claim that he is not qualified. Beyond education though, Gorsuch understands how the Constitution ought to be interpreted.

Gorsuch follows Scalia’s philosophy of originalism and textualism. Originalists believe that the Constitution should be interpreted based on the time of enactment. Everyone has freedom of speech, but rights aren’t absolute. One cannot yell, “fire” in a movie theater. This is because the Founding Fathers wanted to protect political speech that is necessary for a functional democracy.

There are justices who believe in a living constitution – a constitution that moves, changes, and fluctuates with the given time. This concept runs in direct contrast to everything a constitution means and thus results in tyranny by law.

With judges like Gorsuch and Scalia, freedom of speech will mean the same thing in 1789 as it does in 2017. Average Americans who lack the time to study the complexities of constitutional law know what their speech rights are. It is ingrained in society and it does not change.

With the originalism and textualism interpretation, speech rights will remain consistent without ever changing too dramatically. Constitutionalism is meant to be unchanging. If one wants to adapt the Constitution, there is an amendment process.

But those who seek to change the Constitution through judicial activism are harming the American people who need legal consistency. Judges who believe in a living constitution do a disservice to the American people.

Textualists interpret the Constitution on its exact wording by omitting the consideration of legislative history or legislative intent. This interpretation style centers on the notion that the law should be read and understood by all. Therefore, the only portion worth interpreting are the words themselves and nothing else.

Gorsuch and Scalia use this technique as a tool to prevent judicial tyranny. Unlike the average American who does not have time to go to the archives and research legislative debates and intent, Gorsuch and Scalia can look at and interpret the law itself.

What makes this nomination such a beautiful combination of originalism and textualism is that it gives the greatest amount of freedom to the average American while understanding that there is room in the Constitution for interpretation.

Gorsuch and Scalia refuse to change the nature of the Constitution, but still grant that the public can make changes by amending the Constitution. Justices like Scalia and Gorsuch fight hard to maintain the country’s foundational constitutionalism.

Justice Neil Gorsuch will carry on Justice Antonin Scalia’s record of judicial prudence. Even if Gorsuch did commit the egregious sin of being nominated by Donald Trump, the Senate has no justification for not confirming him.

 

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