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Neil Gorsuch Confirmation Hearings: What You Need to Know About the SCOTUS Nominee

Today the Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

WikipediaWikipediaToday the Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings on the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gorsuch is a respected legal conservative whose admirers come from across the political spectrum. Not only is he immensely popular among Federalist Society members, he has also earned kudos from the liberal-leaning American Bar Association, which deemed Gorsuch "well-qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court. That is the ABA's highest rating for a judicial nominee.

Gorsuch is perhaps best known in legal circles as a leading critic of the doctrine known as Chevron deference, which takes its name from the Supreme Court's hugely important 1984 ruling in Chevron U.S.A., Inc. v. Natural Resources Defense Council. According to Chevron, when the federal courts are tasked with interpreting the meaning of an "ambiguous" federal statute, the courts should adopt the statutory interpretation favored by the federal regulatory agency charged with enforcing that statute. What that means in practice is that federal judges are now routinely tipping the scales in favor of such executive branch agencies as the Internal Revenue Service, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Board of Immigration Appeals.

To put it mildly, Gorsuch is no fan of the Chevron approach. In his 2016 concurrence in Gutierrez-Brizuela v. Lynch, for example, Gorsuch denounced Chevron deference as a "judge-made doctrine for the abdication of the judicial duty." As far as Gorsuch is concerned, "under any conception of our separation of powers, I would have thought powerful and centralized authorities like today's administrative agencies would have warranted less deference from other branches, not more."

Gorsuch has also been critical of judicial deference to law enforcement agencies. His 2016 dissent in United States v. Carloss, for instance, lambasted the majority's view that police officers had the "implied consent" to enter private property for a warrantless "knock and talk" on a homeowner's front porch when that homeowner had placed numerous "No Trespassing" signs on the property, including on the front door itself. Yet according to the majority's gloss on the Fourth Amendment, Gorsuch remarked, "a homeowner may post as many No Trespassing signs as she wishes. She might add a wall or a medieval-style moat, too. Maybe razor wire and battlements and mantraps besides. Even that isn't enough to revoke the state's right to enter." In Gorsuch's view, "this line of reasoning seems to me difficult to reconcile with the Constitution of the founders' design."

As I've previously written, "Gorsuch demonstrated admirable and reassuring judgment in these cases. Not only did he cast a principled vote against overreaching law enforcement, he cast a principled vote against the overreaching executive branch. It's not difficult to imagine Gorsuch imposing the same severe judicial scrutiny against the misdeeds of the Trump administration."

Many unanswered questions do still remain about Gorsuch's legal views. For example, he has never written a major opinion in an abortion rights case. Likewise, his views on the full scope of presidential power, including the president's authority to direct immigration policy via executive order, remain unclear. Needless to say, there will be plenty of questions about these and other hot-button issues from the members of the Senate Judiciary Committee.

To get you up to speed in preparation for today's start to the Gorsuch confirmation hearings, here is a selection of Reason's ongoing coverage of the SCOTUS nominee.

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  • DanO.||

    Tumbleweeds.

  • Dizzle||

    I can't wait to see if this is actually a gorsich hearing or "50 questions abortion, live!". First question on the topic he should state his point of view (which IMO is maintain current law from anything I can find or infer) and refuse any further questions on the topic or just repeat that answer over and over. Because I guarantee Schumer's and Pelosi's strategy will be focus only on that issue to appease their ideologue base.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Popcorn- check
    barrels for lefty tears- check

  • Radioactive||

    Don't forget pearls for clutching and fans for the vapors

  • gaoxiaen||

    Or the fainting couch.

  • Radioactive||

    in a nice brocade, or do you prefer chintz?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    What confuses me (among many other things) is his seeming willingness to defer to legislatures but not agencies or police. Eh. I suppose if I paid more attention, it would all seem more consistent, but it really doesn't matter since I have no voice in the matter, so I just can't get too excited by anything other then he's not a Hillary appointee.

  • ThomasD||

    Not sure why this would be confusing. The legislature is the branch charged with crafting laws, so long as their actions do not directly run afoul of Constitutional strictures then the judiciary owes them tremendous deference.

    But even so, when the legislature does serve up a steaming pile of incomprehensible, rather than deferring to the vagaries of someone else (e.g. an executive agency), the judiciary should inform the legislature that the incomprehensible is likewise unenforceable. Barring a re-write, of course.

  • John C. Randolph||

    Even that isn't enough to revoke the state's right to enter

    Since the state has no such right in the first place, how can it be revoked?

    -jcr

  • WakaWaka||

    'Likewise, his views on the full scope of presidential power, including the president's authority to direct immigration policy via executive order, remain unclear'

    This was never questioned until recently. The real question is will he read the literal text of the law granting the president this authority or will he become the latest cool guy for the #Resistance

  • Radioactive||

    I like this only because I want to see Schumer's head explode when Gorsuch is confirmed...shove this up Schumer's ass and snap it off...

  • Bubba Jones||

    So he is "right wing" in all the ways that Feinstein hates, but the hippies don't understand. No abortion paper trail to gin up the protestors. Perfect.

  • Uncle Jay||

    RE: Neil Gorsuch Confirmation Hearings: What You Need to Know About the SCOTUS Nominee
    Today the Senate Judiciary Committee begins confirmation hearings on the nomination of Judge Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

    "Gorsuch is a respected legal conservative whose admirers come from across the political spectrum. Not only is he immensely popular among Federalist Society members, he has also earned kudos from the liberal-leaning American Bar Association, which deemed Gorsuch "well-qualified" to serve on the Supreme Court. That is the ABA's highest rating for a judicial nominee."

    Let's see now.
    It has been rumored that he's an originalist, so right there he's disqualified.
    Then both conservative and liberal groups like him, so there's another point against him
    Add to that he's well versed in the arachiac US Constitution and its principles instead of the progressive ideals of social justice, so another point off for him.
    Lastly, even the ABA gave him the highest rating for a judicial nominee.
    Yup.
    He's not qualified in any way, shape or form.
    Next up, Stan Laurel's corpse for the position.

  • Radioactive||

    must be an animated character that's qualified, no need to raise the dead...

  • Damned||

    Meanwhile, FOX News pulls so-called judge and reason.com darling libertarian Judge Napolitano for his lies

    http://www.latimes.com/busines.....story.html

  • Hank Phillips||

    By precedent, God's Own Prohibitionist Gorsuch doubtless means the Suprema Corte case in which Elihu Root raised a constitutional challenge to the Prohibition Amendment. HL Mencken predicted that some judge somewhere would have the cojones to strike it down and be elevated to the Suprema by a sort of acclamation--even if a gown had to be set afire to make the vacancy. A NY judge did exactly that, and his decision was promptly hauled before the Suprema Corte without any intermediate appellate court pettifoggery and given a good mauling with a heavy gavel. So much for The Federalist argument that the courts would protect us form fanaticism and mystical bigotry!

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