“Gorsuch is the new Scalia, just like Trump promised”

I have written this oped for the LA Times. It begins:

Whatever else comes of the Donald J. Trump presidency, already he has perfectly fulfilled one campaign pledge in a way that will affect the entire United States for a generation or more: putting another Antonin Scalia on the Supreme Court. The early signs from Justice Neil Gorsuch, who joined the Court in April, show that he will hew to the late Justice Scalia’s brand of jurisprudence, both in his conservatism and his boldness.

Usually it takes a few years to get the full sense of a new justice. The job provides awesome power, and new justices often are reluctant to issue stark opinions or stake out strong positions early on. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito, for example, were at first cautious on campaign finance and voting rights issues. Only later did they sign on to blockbuster decisions like 2010’s Citizens United campaign finance case (allowing corporations to spend unlimited sums in elections) or 2013’s Shelby County voting case (effectively killing off a key Voting Rights Act provision).

Not so with Gorsuch. In a flurry of orders and opinions issued Monday, Gorsuch went his own way. The majority affirmed the right of same-sex parents to have both their names appear on birth certificates, but Gorsuch dissented. The majority chose not to hear a challenge to California’s public carry gun law, thus leaving it in place, but Gorsuch dissented. Gorsuch also wrote separately in the Trinity Lutheran case, on whether a parochial school may take government money for playground safety equipment. The court found in favor of the school, but Gorsuch went even further to the right in endorsing the government’s ability to aid religious organizations. This followed his dissent with Justice Clarence Thomas a few weeks ago over the court’s failure to consider overturning the “soft money ban” contained in the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law.

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