Judicial policy is not my strongest topic. This is to say, I don’t tend to know judges below the SCOTUS level or outside of my local courts, and I don’t hear about the big lawsuits until I am reading the opinions after they have already been resolved. This is why I refrained from launching a salvo of hot takes about the nomination of Neil Gorsuch last evening. I instead took my time, did some research, and read some opinions he has written. I came away quite impressed with what I was able to find on him. Simply put his opinions are phenomenal.
I was unable to find a large number of opinions to sample, which was unfortunate. As fate would have it though the ones I did locate were the ones with the very best news for conservatives. Generally speaking it is fairly hard to label judges as conservative or liberal, this is because judges are not supposed to insert their own policy or bias into their opinions. The one tell of a philosophic conservative in the courts that always shines through is a commitment to the text of the constitution, and enforcing what the constitution actually says on laws good or bad. This is by all indications also his strongest suit as a judge.
In his writings he consistently and thoroughly shut down executive usurpation of legislative authority AND Federal usurpation of state delegated power. The commerce clause and more specifically the wrong headed reading of a dormant commerce clause has long been one of my biggest boogeymen as a conservative and a libertarian. Gorsuch has consistently written and ruled against these readings. A little background, there was a case that was brought before him and several other judges pertaining to a Colorado state law that required twenty percent of their electricity to be renewable sourced. The argument was that it should be overturned because the power grid was not just for Colorado and it would therefore be a matter of interstate commerce. Judge Gorsuch in writing the opinion realized that this is absurd and that states has the right to regulate themselves and their markets for right or wrong and that the impact of this law would in fact be next to nothing on wider markets and the commerce between the states.
This alone would have been enough to have me thrilled and over the moon. I didn’t stop there however, I took some more times and came across another equally wonderful opinion in which he directly rejected the idea that Federal agencies have the right to “reasonably” fill in congressional laws and see these laws enforced with additional regulations. As a supporter of a more “night watchman” style Federal government this is precisely what I wanted out of a new Supreme Court justice. Someone who would keep the branches in their place and slow the Executive power grab, even if they can not stop it completely. One last note, while it is fairly prevalent among judges, it was also nice to see that he has an excellent awareness of his ability only to affect things within the boundaries of the suit that is directly in front of him at any given time.
In closing, my Trumpkin friends have all earned a resounding ‘I told you so.’ Many friends that I respect and care for told me that Trump wasn’t their first choice but that they would swallow their pride and vote for him because the Supreme Court nominations were going to be the issue. I was entirely skeptical of this. Watching Trump’s policy flips and flops I could not bring myself to believe that he would hold steady to this particular promise and I have been proven resoundingly wrong. I could not be happier to have been proven wrong here in this instance. President Trump, sir, you have hit another one out of the park. I worry deeply about your early revealed habit of ruling by executive fiat, but this nominee may even help keep that in check. Now all that is left is to see if Congress can find a way to get him on the bench proper.