The Volokh Conspiracy

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Judge Gorsuch attracts broad bipartisan support among legal elites


Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch. (MICHAEL REYNOLDS/European Pressphoto Agency)

Last week, the American Bar Association's Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary gave Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch a unanimous "well-qualified" rating. This superlative ABA rating is no surprise. There is no dispute that Judge Gorsuch is supremely qualified to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

While progressive activists may be itching for a fight over the Gorsuch nomination, many progressive attorneys and legal experts recognize the merits of the Gorsuch nomination. Writing in The Post last week, noted liberal lawyer David C. Frederick explained why "there is no principled reason to vote no" on the Gorsuch nomination:

as Judge Neil Gorsuch—President Trump's choice for the court seat that Garland would have filled—approaches his confirmation hearings, I fear that the lingering resentments of the past year will cloak a fair consideration of him as a nominee. Gorsuch—my former law partner and longtime friend—is brilliant, diligent, open-minded and thoughtful. . . .

Gorsuch's approach to resolving legal problems as a lawyer and a judge embodies a reverence for our country's values and legal system. The facts developed in a case matter to him; the legal rules established by legislatures and through precedent deserve deep respect; and the importance of treating litigants, counsel and colleagues with civility is deeply ingrained in him.

Frederick, it is worth noting, served in the Clinton Justice Department and sits on the board of the American Constitution Society, a prominent progressive legal organization.

Frederick is hardly alone. As the Gorsuch hearings approach, other prominent lawyers across the political spectrum have come out in support of President Trump's first Supreme Court nominee. On Feb. 28, for instance, more than two dozen leading Supreme Court advocates from across the political spectrum signed a letter endorsing Gorsuch's confirmation.

Another letter, this one from more than 50 of Gorsuch's Harvard Law classmates, released last week likewise includes signatories of all political stripes. It begins:

We are Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians and independents; progressives, conservatives and moderates; religious and non-observant; married, single and divorced; men and women; straight and gay. Our group includes citizens residing abroad and a U.S. resident holding a green card. We live in big cities, rural America and places in between. Some of us supported Hillary Clinton, others voted for Donald Trump, while some of us supported thirdparty or write-in candidates. Some signatories believe in a more active judiciary, while others believe in judicial restraint. What unites us is that we attended law school with Judge Neil Gorsuch-a man we've known for more than a quarter century-and we unanimously believe Neil possesses the exemplary character, outstanding intellect, steady temperament, humility and open-mindedness to be an excellent addition to the United States Supreme Court.

Among the notable signatories of this letter is the Brookings Institution's Norman Eisen, co-founder of CREW, who has led the efforts to expose and challenge Trump's conflicts of interest and helped quarterback CREW's emoluments clause lawsuit against the president.