After watching Judge Gorsuch at his hearings last week, I came away much more worried about the kind of justice he would be on the bench: I saw a kind of arrogance, dismissiveness, and lack of depth that made me worry he would not only be sharply conservative but reflexively and shallowly so. I tweeted about my impressions last week, and it generated a lot of comments on both sides.
As one SCOTUS observer told me off the record,
Pretending to have Roberts’ brilliance
Pretending to have Kennedy’s politenessPretending to have Scalia’s witty writingbut he comes up short in all respectswhile he thinks he’s doing great
The excellent Joan Biskupic seemed to sum up the anxiety on the left about Judge Gorsuch in this must-read column:
In countless ways, the man President Donald Trump has chosen to succeed the late Justice Antonin Scalia downplayed the judicial branch and the importance of a single justice appointed to a lifetime seat.But that message belies the many 5-4 rulings in recent years that have changed American life and the reality that judges cannot always look simply to the facts and relevant law to resolve a dispute.The Constitution contains concepts, not clear-cut formulas. And while justices resist characterization based on ideology or politics, their voting patterns can suggest policy preferences. The current four justices appointed by Republican presidents vote, by and large, for conservative results; the four Democratic appointees vote generally for liberal outcomes.Gorsuch’s record on a Denver-based US appeals court indicates he would align with Scalia’s views as a fifth conservative justice. That would return the court to the 5-4 posture that produced such decisions as the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, which lifted limits on corporate money in elections, and 2013 Shelby County v. Holder, which curtailed voting-rights protections for racial minorities and others who face discrimination at the polls….For his part, Gorsuch refused to explain his views of congressional authority and separation of powers or constitutional due process and equality in his testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week. He did not tip his hand on how he would resolve disputes over a woman’s right to end a pregnancy, a key question for senators on both sides of the aisle.To be sure, the 49-year-old federal appellate judge is not the first Supreme Court nominee to keep his views close to the vest, but he did it to a greater extent.“What worries me,” said the committee’s ranking Democrat Dianne Feinstein, of California, “is that you have been very much able to avoid specificity like no one I have ever seen before.”