Judge Neil Gorsuch knows full well that he is attempting to take a place on the Supreme Court that should have gone to another jurist, Judge Merrick Garland. Shortly after Donald Trump nominated him, Gorsuch called Garland “out of respect.” Later, Gorsuch described Garland to be an “outstanding judge.”
Yet, Gorsuch sacrificed his own self respect last week, during his Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearing. The nominee refused to answer a simple question about the shameful treatment of Garland, the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit judge who President Obama’s nominated to replace the late Justice Antonin Scalia, by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the cabal of lawless partisans who corrupted the confirmation process in 2016.
The senior Democrat on the Judiciary Committee asked Gorsuch a simple question about the refusal of the Senate to even consider the Garland nomination: “Do you think he was treated fairly by this committee, yes or no?”
“Senator,” Gorsuch replied, “as I explained to you before, I can’t get involved in politics. There’s judicial canons that prevent me from doing that, and I think it would be very imprudent of judges to start commenting on political disputes between themselves, or the various branches.”
That was a legalistically-worded, yet shamefully dishonest answer. Instead of making a case for his confirmation, Gorsuch’s testimony strengthened the already powerful argument for rejecting this nomination.
When Minnesota Senator Al Franken raised the issue, Gorsuch continued the charade, announcing that: “There is a reason why judges don’t clap at the State of the Union, and why I can’t even attend a political caucus in my home state to register a vote in the equivalent of a primary.”
Franken explained that, “I think you’re allowed to talk about what happened to the last guy that was nominated in your position. You’re allowed to say something without getting involved in politics. You can express an opinion on this.” The senator pointed to the legitimate constitutional concerns that had been raised by the failure of the Republican-controlled Senate to even consider the Garland nomination.
But Gorsuch steadfastly refused to respond. “Senator,” said Trump’s nominee. “I appreciate the invitation, but I know the other side has their views of this, and your side has your views of it. That, by definition, is politics. And Senator, judges have to stay outside of politics.”