One of the Most Impressive Supreme Court Nominees We’ve Ever Seen

‘His resume is a mile long. His reputation is second to none. And his record is something to behold. In nearly a decade on the circuit court, his work was so outstanding, the Supreme Court didn’t need to check it very often.’

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, the president’s nominee for the Supreme Court:

“Neil Gorsuch is one of the most impressive Supreme Court nominees we’ve ever seen.  His resume is a mile long.  His reputation is second to none.  And his record is something to behold.

“In nearly a decade on the circuit court, his work was so outstanding, the Supreme Court didn’t need to check it very often. In fact, as we recently learned from his Judiciary Committee questionnaire, the High Court felt the need to review on the merits an opinion in a case he authored only once — and in that one case, a broad cross-section of the justices on the Court voted to affirm his work, with Justices Ginsburg, Breyer, and Sotomayor joining Justices Thomas and Alito affirming his opinion.

“Let me put that in context for you.  Out of the 240 opinions Judge Gorsuch wrote for the Tenth Circuit, or where he authored a concurrence or dissent — not to mention the 500 additional unpublished dispositions he’s written — the Supreme Court only reviewed one of his cases on the merits, and it affirmed that one case.

“As for the cases where Judge Gorsuch did not write the opinion, but joined in the opinion of his colleague, the Supreme Court reviewed five of those cases, and the Court affirmed four out of five. So, even including opinions that Judge Gorsuch did not author but joined, his overall record in the Supreme Court is being affirmed in five out of six cases.

“How does that record compare to some of his would-be colleagues on the Supreme Court?  Well, President Obama’s first Supreme Court nominee, Sonia Sotomayor, also was a circuit court judge before she was appointed to the Supreme Court. And she was a circuit court judge for about the same amount of time as Judge Gorsuch has been, approximately a decade.

“The Supreme Court reviewed on the merits five opinions she authored as a circuit court judge. But the Court reversed her most of the time — reversing her three out of five times. And in one of those two cases that it affirmed, the Supreme Court unanimously rejected her reasoning in doing so, finding that it ‘flies in the face of the statutory language.’  So the Supreme Court actually rejected the approach of then-Judge Sotomayor in four out of the five opinions she authored.

“Our Democratic colleagues are insistent that we have someone ‘mainstream’ appointed to the Court — with the definition of ‘mainstream,’ of course, being determined by their particular world view.  Since all of our Democratic colleagues who were here when her nomination to the Supreme Court was pending supported Justice Sotomayor, I know they found her to be ‘mainstream.’

“Given that Judge Gorsuch’s record before the Court he seeks to join is quite a bit better than hers, I assume they would concede — even if grudgingly — that as measured by one’s record before the Supreme Court as a lower court judge, Judge Gorsuch is at least as ‘mainstream’ as she is.

“With Judge Gorsuch’s impressive record before the Supreme Court and other impressive qualities, it’s no wonder, then, that both sides of the political spectrum can’t help but praise him.   I’ve shared some of that praise already.  From those who’ve worked alongside him.  From those who’ve studied underneath him.

“And now, some thoughts from those who’ve appeared before him.  Let me read to you from an article that appeared just a few days ago in the Albuquerque Journal:  ‘Local attorneys from across the political spectrum who have appeared before U.S. Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch call him ‘a gentleman,’ ‘extraordinarily affable,’ and ‘an exceptional nomination.’ As a federal Court of Appeals judge posted in Denver for the past 10 years, Gorsuch has ruled on numerous cases from New Mexico, giving many local attorneys an up-close view of the man who could fill the seat of late U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia.’

“Here’s one local lawyer, who praised his fairness:  ‘He is an enormous intellect, a really, really bright guy…He’ll be one of the brightest justices on that court – if not the brightest,’ he said. ‘It was always a pleasure to be in front of him because whether you won or lost, you knew you were going to be treated fairly.’

“Here’s another lawyer, a Democrat who appeared before him a dozen or so times, mostly on civil rights cases:  Gorsuch is not an ‘ideologue,’ he said. ‘Politics aside, Judge Gorsuch would be someone good for the judiciary and the country. People should rest assured that he would always try to make the most learned and just decision and politics would not be a consideration or factor in his decisions…And that’s from me, and I’m a longtime Democrat.’

“And here’s one more, who noted the legacy he’s already left behind:  ‘Gorsuch has placed 11 of his (Appeals Court) clerks with Supreme Court justices, so he is in the very top. And not only has he placed them, his law clerks go all over the place. They’ve clerked for Kennedy, Scalia, Thomas, and they’ve also clerked for Kagan and Sotomayor…This is a really good indicator of what the justices think of this guy before he was even a nominee to the Supreme Court,’ he said. ‘It’s like a Good Housekeeping seal of approval. And it cuts across the political spectrum.’  He’s right.

“And, speaking of those who’ve clerked for Sonia Sotomayor, we recently heard a testimonial from an Obama Administration lawyer who clerked for both Sotomayor and Gorsuch too. ‘I don’t think folks on the Left should be concerned about Judge Gorsuch becoming a Supreme Court Justice,’ she said. ‘He is extraordinarily fair-minded…[h]e will approach each case the same, regardless of the issue or the parties before him, and he will have a great deal of respect for folks on all sides of the ideological spectrum.’

“That’s really high praise, Mr. President.  It’s coming from both sides of the aisle.  And I’m sure we’ll hear even more of it as the days go by.”

Related Issues: Supreme Court, Judicial Nominations, Nominations