Former Judicial Colleagues Voice Praise for Judge Neil Gorsuch
‘But we don’t have to guess how Judge Gorsuch would conduct himself as a justice. We have a ten year record of his judicial decisions. And we have the professional experience of those who have practiced before him and those who have served with him. As for the latter, Judges Tacha and Henry give him the highest marks.’
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the following remarks on the Senate floor today regarding Judge Neil Gorsuch and the support he has received from both Republicans and Democrats:
“Yesterday, Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch came before the Senate Judiciary Committee for the first day of his confirmation hearing. In his opening statement, Judge Gorsuch showed why so many lawyers and judges strongly support his nomination as a thoughtful and fair-minded judge who understands the particular role of the federal courts in our republic and who has discharged his judicial office accordingly.
“Last week, two of his former colleagues on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals added their voices to this growing chorus. Their endorsement of him was published in The Washington Post. Judge Gorsuch’s hearing continues today with Senators on the Committee asking him questions. As they do, we should keep in mind the counsel of his former Tenth Circuit colleagues — both as to their experience with Judge Gorsuch on the bench and their view of our role in questioning him now that he’s before the Senate.
“Judges Deanell Reece Tacha and Robert Henry both served with Judge Gorsuch on the Tenth Circuit. Both were Chief Judges of that Court, in fact. And both have gone on to careers in academia: Judge Tacha as dean of the Pepperdine School of Law, Judge Henry as president and chief executive of Oklahoma City University. Judge Tacha was appointed to the circuit court by President Reagan, while Judge Henry was appointed to the circuit court by President Clinton. They describe themselves as a lifelong Republican and Democrat, respectively.
“They write that ‘predictions abound as to how Judge Neil Gorsuch — if confirmed — would lean or even vote on this or that case. . . But these essentially political discussions tend to distort the role of judges in our government.’ They remind us that the ‘”independence of the judges” is a most sacred tradition in U.S. constitutional law, requiring all judges to have no obligations to those who nominated or confirmed them.’ Let me repeat that, Mr. President. They note that the principle of judicial independence requires judges not to have obligations to those who nominate them or to those who confirm them.
“In that regard, Judges Tacha and Henry remind us that ‘[d]etailed discussions during the confirmation process on issues that might come before a judge are not proper; in fact, they would in all likelihood require recusals from the cases discussed.’ They point out how the judicial process is different from the confirmation process.
“They observe that ‘controversies that go before the court often bring unique and complicated facts that could completely change a judge’s sincerely espoused view.’ Legal research is ‘[a]nother critically important input into judicial decisions.’ Legal research might reveal precedent that overrides a judge’s ‘previously held views or even logical interpretations of legal text.’ They emphasize that the judicial process is the collection of ‘[t]hese factors —tradition, independence, precedent and unique facts,’ and that these factors ‘often combine to lead judicial nominees to change their views when confronted with specific cases...’
“By contrast, these factors are not present in the confirmation process. So it’s not realistic or fair to expect a judicial nominee to state or imply under oath how he might rule as a judge. That is why Justice Ginsburg could not give any hints, forecasts or previews of her possible rulings during her Supreme Court nomination hearing.
“But we don’t have to guess how Judge Gorsuch would conduct himself as a justice. We have a ten year record of his judicial decisions. And we have the professional experience of those who have practiced before him and those who have served with him. As for the latter, Judges Tacha and Henry give him the highest marks.
“Judge Gorsuch was, they say, ‘like most good judges, assiduously attentive to the facts and law in each case.’ If he were confirmed to the Supreme Court, they say that ‘other important traits of Gorsuch that are not likely to change’ are things like ‘his fair consideration of opposing views, his remarkable intelligence, his wonderful judicial temperament expressed to litigants and his collegiality toward colleagues.’
“They conclude by saying that ‘[i]f we seek to confirm to the Supreme Court a noted intellect, a collegial colleague, and a gifted and eloquent writer — as well as person of exhibited judicial temperament — Gorsuch fits that bill. He represents the best of the judicial tradition in our country.’ Their endorsement tracks with so many others we have heard. And I’m confident that Judge Gorsuch will show the country today and tomorrow why so many people are so proud to support him to be our next Supreme Court Justice.”
Related Issues: Nominations, Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations