When his nomination comes to the floor next week, I will vote to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. This is my first time voting on a Supreme Court nominee, and I don’t take the decision lightly. It’s a lifetime appointment after all, and the Court’s rulings have shaped our country’s history-for good and for ill-and will continue to shape our future. But after reading Judge Gorsuch’s writings, meeting with him in person, and listening to his testimony, I can say with confidence that it’s not a hard call. I believe Judge Gorsuch will be a fine addition to the Supreme Court.
There’s no denying Judge Gorsuch’s distinctive qualifications. We all know his credentials: Columbia, Harvard Law-and an Oxford doctorate to boot. He clerked for an appellate judge and for two Supreme Court justices. Judge Gorsuch had many years of experience in both private practice and public service-and, of course, over ten years as an appellate judge. And he possesses a fine judicial temperament: highly erudite, highly accomplished, and highly regarded by those who know him best. It’s no surprise, then, that the American Bar Association, in a unanimous vote, declared him “well qualified” for the job. While I wouldn’t outsource our responsibilities to any advocacy organization, I would note that the minority leader himself once said, the ABA rating is “the gold standard by which judicial candidates are judged.”
But, of course, Judge Gorsuch is not just filling any seat, but the seat once held by the late Justice Antonin Scalia. Justice Scalia was a giant of American jurisprudence. Most justices earn their place in history by writing opinions, giving their voice to their colleagues and speaking for the Court as a whole. Justice Scalia did that many times throughout his career, of course. But he did something more. He changed the way judges-both conservative and liberal-think about the law and defend their decisions. He reminded us all that a judge’s job is to apply the law-including the Constitution, our most fundamental law-as written, to the case before him-not to rewrite it altogether. Adhering to the law-even when the judge doesn’t like the result-is the greatest public service that judge can render-because to respect the rule of law is ultimately to respect the rule of the people.
This is what Justice Scalia taught, and what he inspired a whole generation of judges and lawyers to understand. As we prepare to fill his seat on the Supreme Court, let us also acknowledge that no man can fill his shoes. We honor the memory of Justice Scalia, and we thank his wife, Maureen, and his whole family for sharing this great man with our country for so long.
Judge Gorsuch is a child of the Scalia generation. He’s long advocated for and followed the originalist judicial craft-one rooted in the text, structure, and history of the Constitution. Which is to say, he respects the rule of law, and he respects the people. Whether defending the religious liberty of the Little Sisters of the Poor or the Fourth Amendment rights of a regular household, he has shown a profound respect for the Constitution. I also think he’s demonstrated throughout his career a firm independence of thought. He’s had his influences and his mentors, his promoters and his critics, but I believe he’ll be his own man-as he should be.
And so, I’m pleased to announce my support for the next associate justice of the Supreme Court, Judge Neil M. Gorsuch. I look forward to his confirmation next week.