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Worthy of the “Gold Standard”

This week the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee will begin confirmation hearings to consider the nomination of Judge Neil M. Gorsuch to serve as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

Since President Donald Trump announced his nomination to fill the vacancy created by the late Justice Antonin Scalia, a full court press has been unleashed to examine Judge Gorsuch’s character and credentials, as well as the judicial record he has amassed over the past ten years.

What’s most remarkable about the deep dive is the fact that Judge Gorsuch is indisputably qualified to serve on the nation’s highest court in the land. Last week the American Bar Association delivered a unanimous “Well Qualified” rating for his nomination, its highest possible assessment. The ABA’s exhaustive review evaluates a nominee’s integrity, professional competence and judicial demeanor. Senators Pat Leahy (D-Vt.) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) previously have referred to the ABA’s stamp of approval as the “gold standard.”

Judge Gorsuch is the gold standard. He is a man of sterling character who possesses an impressive command of the law. Since his unanimous approval to serve on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 10th Circuit a decade ago, Judge Gorsuch has served with honor and distinction. His opinions reflect integrity and intellect mixed with ironclad impartiality and fidelity to the Constitution. His judicial philosophy is driven by the fundamental principles that the law applies equally to all, and that judges decide cases, not policy.

It’s a judicial philosophy that recognizes the genius of our 240-year-old Constitution: a government of limited and divided powers, carefully balanced, with an eye to the preservation of individual liberty. The federal judiciary serves as the final arbiter to uphold individual rights and referee the separation of powers, providing ordinary citizens access to an unbiased court of law to right wrongs and redress their grievances with impartiality and fairness.

With a decade of experience on the 10th Circuit, Judge Gorsuch’s record reflects an unwavering commitment to the rule of law. His rulings demonstrate a core commitment to deliver justice without bias or political favoritism. Judge Gorsuch does not consider the federal bench a political platform. Proper stewardship of the federal judiciary avoids judicial activism, embraces neutrality and works to ensure that the President, Congress and yes, judges, act within their constitutional boundaries in service to the American people.

He understands that judicial restraint preserves liberty by permitting the people to govern themselves, through their representatives. He also recognizes that the judiciary is a check on the executive branch, including the modern regulatory scheme.

Next week’s hearings mark the 14th Supreme Court confirmation hearing I’ve participated in. It will be my first time leading the hearing as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee. And, as I’ve conducted nomination hearings for Attorneys General Jeff Sessions and Loretta Lynch, it will be fair and thorough.

I expect political posturing and grandstanding to be on full display. I also anticipate exhaustive attempts to require Judge Gorsuch to telegraph his personal views and forecast how he’ll rule on the hot button issues that may come before him.

But let’s not forget the standard set by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg in her confirmation hearings: It would be inappropriate for a Supreme Court nominee to offer hints or make commitments on matters that may come before the court.

By the end of the hearing, the American people will have seen and heard detailed responses about Judge Gorsuch’s judicial philosophy and his approach to the law and the Constitution.

And, by the time this week’s proceedings are completed, I expect that Judge Gorsuch will be well on his way to becoming our next Supreme Court justice.

Recommended Citation: SCOTUSblog Grassley, Worthy of the “Gold Standard”, SCOTUSblog (Mar. 20, 2017, 8:30 AM),