Right Hooks

The Humble Judge

Gorsuch's eloquent opening remarks showed clear understanding of a judge's role.

Thomas Gallatin · Mar. 21, 2017

When even those who disagree with Judge Neil Gorsuch’s political views voice their praise of his character and record and offer support for his confirmation — as Barack Obama’s former solicitor general Neal Katyal did — it can be difficult to convince others that he is dangerous and unfit to serve on the Supreme Court. But Democrats tried anyway.

Gorsuch gave his opening statements on Monday, expressing both a humble recognition of the role a judge plays in society and his committed respect for the Rule of Law. He began by stating, “These days we sometimes hear judges cynically described as politicians in robes, seeking to enforce their own politics rather than striving to apply the law impartially. If I thought that were true, I’d hang up the robe. … I saw judges and juries — while human and imperfect — striving hard every day to fairly decide the cases I put to them. As a judge now for more than a decade I’ve watched my colleagues spend long days worrying over cases. Sometimes the answers we reach aren’t the ones we personally prefer. … But the answers we reach are always the ones we believe the law requires. And for all its imperfections, I believe the Rule of Law in this nation truly is a wonder, and that it’s no wonder that it’s the envy of the world.”

He also gave a pointed and yet respectful refutation of Sen. Patrick Leahy’s (D-VT) absurd comments. Leahy labelled originalism, the doctrine of interpreting the Constitution and the law according to what was originally meant, as “outside the mainstream of moderate constitutional jurisprudence.” Gorsuch said, “If judges were just secret legislators, declaring not what the law is but what they would like to be, the very idea of a government by the people and for the people would be at risk. And those who came before the court would live in fear, never sure exactly what the law requires of them, except for the judge’s will.”

Gorsuch made it clear that he believes the character of a judge should be “patient, impartial, and decisive,” as he quoted from Increase Sumner, a colonial-era judge whom he admires. In his closing comments, Gorsuch said, “When you become a judge, you fiercely defend only one client — the law.”

Proverbs 28:4 states, “Those who forsake the law praise the wicked, but those who keep the law strive against them.” Judge Gorsuch is a man who embodies a commitment to this principle.

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