Scouting Report: Justice Neil Gorsuch


Unless you’ve already retreated to your underground bunker to wait out the Trump administration (here’s looking at you, fellow millennials), you probably know that Neil McGill Gorsuch was recently appointed by President Trump to serve as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court taking Justice Scalia’s seat (R.I.P.).  This appointment is important, because Supreme Court Justices shape the country’s legal landscape and, therefore, our rights and responsibilities as U.S. citizens.

HOWEVER, because you likely don’t want to read boring legal rhetoric, I’ll balance that with personals about Justice Gorsuch.  I’ll call it Dude v. Judge™.  Here we go:

Dude Gorsuch: “Yo, I dig on outdoor sports, like fly-fishing, rowing, and skiing.”

  • Hailing from Boulder, CO, I’m not especially shocked about Dude Gorsuch’s hobbies, particularly shredding the gnar.  It’s always good to hear each of the Justices’ personal hobbies, so that they at least appear to be humans rather than androids spouting legal precedent.  Notably, rowing has to be pretty high on the list of white-dude-dominated sports, so at least Dude Gorsuch doesn’t shy away from his own stereotypes.

Judge Gorsuch: The law “doesn’t just apply to protect popular religious beliefs: it does perhaps its most important work in protecting unpopular religious beliefs, vindicating this nation’s long-held aspiration to serve as a refuge of religious tolerance.”

  • HEYYYYY, bet you didn’t expect him to be NOT a bigot (though I’m sure you did expect him to be religious).  In this quote from Hobby Lobby Stores v. Sebelius, Judge Gorsuch took a broad reading of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.  However, in doing so, he held that companies did not have to provide, for example, employee access to contraceptives under Obamacare in order to abide by their religious ideals.  After this case, many folks viewed Judge Gorsuch as a catastrophe to women’s health.

Dude Gorsuch: “I’ve been a silver fox since 1995, baby.”

Judge Gorsuch: “[A]ll human beings are intrinsically valuable and the intentional taking of human life by private persons is always wrong.”

  • This is a quote from Judge Gorsuch’s book, “The Future of Assisted Suicide and Euthanasia.”  As you can tell, he’s pro-life, both in the euthanasia and abortion contexts.  That’s pretty unsurprising given his conservative background.

Dude Gorsuch: “I’m not just a city boy …”

  • According to his Wikipedia page, Dude Gorsuch “raises horses, chickens, and goats.”  This cuts both in favor of and against his being a possible sociopath.  Call it a wash.

Judge Gorsuch: He’s an Originalist and Textualist.

  • This means he reads legal things like they would have been read when they were originally written and understood.  Scalia was famously both of these as well.  The National Review called Judge Gorsuch “A Worthy Heir to Scalia.”  I don’t disagree, but the question is whether we actually needed another Scalia.

Dude Gorsuch:  “I was a roadie for Metallica on their ‘Speed of Sound’ Tour.”

  • Ok, that’s actually The Dude from “The Big Lebowski,” but I can’t necessarily confirm or deny that Dude Gorsuch wasn’t on that tour too.

So what’s the verdict on Gorsuch?  He’s conservative but not a religious fanatic per se.  Though I personally won’t agree with many of his holdings, his opinions are reasoned and he generally considers both sides of the issue at hand.  After losing Scalia, perhaps the bench needed another “bad cop” to stick to his/her guns.  He’s also a Dude both in the gender sense and in the cultural sense.  Trump could have certainly done much worse.

[heading picture from The Denver Post]

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