Commentary

Like It or Not, Judge Gorsuch Should Be Confirmed

By JOHN M. IMPERIALE | Mar 01, 2017

In a nutshell, here is what is wrong with politics today: When you are of the party opposing a member of Congress, a senator or the president of the United States, then you oppose everything that person says, does or wants to do. No analysis is done, no compromise is reached, no concession to position or power is given, be it by the majority or the minority.

You oppose. That’s all. Oppose. Everything.

I recognize that being the “opposition” is a long-held tradition in America. But there would be no America without compromise and concession. There would be no two houses of Congress, the House of Representatives being a concession to the most populated states, the Senate a concession to the smaller states. The balance of power among the three branches of government is itself a compromise between the Founding Fathers who wanted a strong central government and those who wanted state supremacy. Virtually every word in the Constitution was opposed by some convention delegate. In the end, though, they stopped “opposing” and started acting in the best interest of the country.

And today we just oppose.

You do not have to look back much further than Sen. Mitch McConnell’s vow to make Barack Obama a “one-term president.” He failed at that, but that philosophy carried forth for eight years.

It was a philosophy of opposition that culminated in the opposition of Merrick Garland’s nomination for the Supreme Court. That was wrong and tantamount to a dereliction of duty and misuse of power. Garland was the president’s nominee and he was supremely (pardon the pun) qualified. He should have been confirmed.

The Republicans were wrong to oppose his nomination and confirmation. But they were just doing what is done every day in Washington: They were opposing. It has to stop at some point or this country and its government will cease being able to function at all.

The Democrats are right in saying that the Republicans were wrong on Judge Garland. That does not make them right in holding up the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch for the Supreme Court. My mother could not have been the only mother to teach that two wrongs don’t make a right.

I, personally, am worried about how Judge Gorsuch will rule as a member of the Supreme Court. His rulings on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals clearly indicate his conservative leanings, and I grew out of my conservative leanings a long time ago. Age and experience will do that to a person, if that person pays any attention to the world and the needs of all of its people. But the fact that I am of a different political philosophy than Judge Gorsuch does not change the fact that he is an eminently qualified judge, nominated by the president as the Constitution dictates, and indicative of the will of the voters who elected our president in the first place.

“Advise and consent” was never intended to mean oppose a qualified candidate simply because you disagree with that candidate. It was meant to wean out unqualified candidates, such as Harriet Miers. Ms. Miers was nominated by George W. Bush because, basically, she was his friend. That nomination went nowhere. Remember G. Harrold Carswell? Thank God, you probably don’t! He was nominated by Richard Nixon in 1970 but rejected by the Senate primarily because he was unqualified, though he also was a white supremacist. Oh, and six years later he was convicted of battery in a men’s room, the details of which I won’t go into here.

There are a few other examples of the Senate stopping a president’s Supreme Court nominee (Robert Bork), but not many. And that’s the point. The people elect the president and he nominates someone for the Supreme Court whenever there is an opening.

But this “opposition,” no matter what, has to stop, especially when there are so many legitimate reasons to oppose with regard to the presidency of Donald Trump.

The “travel ban” will face further court tests and may possibly be upheld, possibly not. Regardless, American citizens should fight against it with all the pride and fervor that they have. Even a rewritten executive order, designed to have a better chance in the courts, should be opposed. We are, or should be, a better country than that. Immigrants are the foundation of this country and it is absurd to say that terrorists are coming here intermingled with refugees, students and families. There is simply no evidence to support the anti-immigration furor.

There is also no evidence to support most of what this president says, and the false claims are dangerous. His continued statements about voter fraud are simply a path to voter restriction laws, which should be – dare I say it? – opposed.

President Trump’s assault on the environment must be opposed. His loosening of banking regulations enacted to prevent another Great Recession should be opposed. His friendship with Russia! How can even his supporters not oppose that! The proposed tax on imports meant to keep jobs in America will also lead to higher prices for many goods purchased by average families. It should be looked at carefully, and perhaps opposed. If he and the Republicans in Congress want to repeal the Affordable Care Act without simultaneously replacing it with something that protects those who finally found health coverage, then oppose it.

Oppose all you want, I say, except when it comes to the constitutional duty of having a full and complete hearing on the president’s Supreme Court nominee, and then voting on that nominee. Then you do your job.

Both of New Jersey’s senators, Cory Booker and Robert Menendez, are poised to oppose Judge Neil Gorsuch. In doing so, they are ignoring one key fact: He is qualified. Also, Donald Trump listed Judge Gorsuch as a potential nominee when he was a candidate. And the voters elected him, in many cases because they wanted him to nominate the next Supreme Court judge, not Hillary Clinton.

I must say again, I am no fan of Judge Gorsuch, in spite of his outstanding background: Columbia, Harvard, Oxford and even a stint as principal deputy associate attorney general. He is more than qualified. However, I wish he were more mainstream.  His ruling on the appellate court siding with the challenge to the Obama contraceptive mandate is a scary prelude to a Roe v. Wade challenge. He is, after all, a tried and true conservative, just as Antonin Scalia was.

He will bring the court back to where it basically was: four conservatives, four liberals and Anthony Kennedy in the middle.

The next opening could really tilt the balance in the court. Let us hope President Trump does not get another pick. But until then, Democrats would be wise to do their job and allow a full hearing and vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch.

Senators Booker and Menendez, learn when to pick your fights. And let us all hope that the days of opposition at all costs come to an end. Soon.

John M. Imperiale of Harvey Cedars can be reached at johnmimperiale@gmail.com.

 

 

 

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