Book excerpt: A Republic, If You Can Keep It

Before Brett Kavanaugh got raked over Congressional coals, Neil Gorsuch had a much easier time as President Trump’s nominee to replace the late Associate Justice Antonin Scalia on the United States Supreme Court.

Scalia’s death was a surprise. No great resistance was made to replacing the conservative originalist Scalia with another conservative originalist, Gorsuch from Colorado.

In what is likely to be a thunderous political year (that started with a literal bang! and the death of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani), Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court Neil Gorsuch has published a book that collects his thoughts on Scalia, originalism, the proper role of the judiciary in our form of government, and the importance of keeping the powers of the three branches of government separated.

Here is an excerpt from the book’s introduction.

By the end of it all [that is, his nomination process], I came to realize that some today perceive a judge to be just like a politician who can and must promise (and then deliver) policy outcomes that favor certain groups.

They see the job of a judge as less about following the law and facts wherever they lead and more about doing whatever it takes to “help” this group of “stop” that policy.

And it struck me: It’s one thing to wrry some judges might aggrandize their personal preferences over a faithful adherence to the law; but it’s another thing to think judges should behave like that.

The idea that judges do — and should — allow their policy preferences to determine their legal rulings was foreign to my experience in the law.

The judges I admired as a lawyer and those I have come to cherish as colleagues know that Lady Justice is portrayed with a blindfold for a reason.

These judges trive every day to ensure that their decisions aren’t based on which persons or groups they happen to like or what policies they happen to prefer.

They don’t pretend to be philosopher-kings with the right or ability to pronounce judgment on all of society’s problems.

They never boast that htey can foresee all the (often unintended) consequences of their decisions, let alone accurately calculate the optimal social policy outcome

They don’t seek favor or fear condemnation but recognize instead that they judge’s job is only to apply the law’s terms as faithfully as possible.

(Line breaks are added to make it easier to read.)

Just imagine if Trump gets the opportunity to nominate a third Supreme Court Justice!