Pro-life views are not 'extremism' and shouldn't disqualify Gorsuch

(CNS photo/Kevin Lamarque, Reuters)

Weeks in advance of Judge Neil Gorsuch’s testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, a number of Democratic senators had already declared that they would vote against confirming the Supreme Court nominee. Senator Jeff Merkley of Oregon, who was one of the first to make a public statement, justified his opposition on the grounds that the nomination is for “a stolen seat being filled by an illegitimate and extreme nominee.”

America’s editors have opposed the unprecedented obstructionism of Senate Republicans who refused even to hold a hearing for Judge Merrick Garland after his nomination by President Obama, arguing that if they believed “that approving this nominee would result in unacceptable outcomes, resolving fundamental questions of social policy in the wrong direction,” then they should have had the courage to say so explicitly and vote his nomination down. While it could be argued that the Democratic senators opposing Judge Gorsuch are showing such courage now, they have—dangerously—pitched their refusal to confirm both as a tit-for-tat response to the last nomination and also in terms of the nominee’s supposed extremism. Both approaches will further entrench the stalemate in which the Supreme Court, by resolving constitutionalized questions of social policy, must constantly be the front line of the culture wars.

The Republican response to the Garland nomination was understandable on political grounds and indefensible on constitutional grounds. Democratic opposition to the Gorsuch nomination as payback is in exactly the same situation. But the attempt to portray Judge Gorsuch as “extreme” goes further. It is, in part, code language that expresses the expectation that he will not support the decisions in Roe v. Wade or Casey v. Planned Parenthood or other cases that have made the Supreme Court the only feasible venue for adjudicating the abortion question. Senator Ed Markey of Massachusetts identified Judge Gorsuch’s “opinions that have demonstrated hostility to women’s reproductive rights” as a principal reason for his opposition. These opinions, however, are not on the fringe. Around 40 percent of Americans believe abortion should be illegal in all or most cases; and 8 in 10 favor restrictions on abortion, many of which are largely impossible to implement under Roe’s line of constitutional interpretation.

Preserving an absolute right to abortion does not justify pre-emptive opposition to a Supreme Court nominee. Even if Judge Gorsuch were to cast a deciding vote against the precedent of Roe v. Wade, that would simply return the question of abortion regulation to democratic resolution by Congress and state legislatures, where a debate could unfold and be resolved.

It is possible that an open debate over Judge Gorsuch’s nomination—in Senate hearings, without pre-declared opposition—would allow for reflection on how the Supreme Court ought to function and what moral and policy questions must be decided on constitutional grounds. Refusal to confirm a Supreme Court nominee because of expected policy outcomes is understandable, even if unwise. American democracy, however, will be healthier if the Senate acknowledges that nomination hearings are not an adequate arena for a serious policy debate. Like Judge Garland, Judge Gorsuch’s qualifications are excellent. He cannot be opposed on those grounds.

1 week 5 days ago

Judge Gorsuch's judicial record shows him to be a Scalia originalist look-alike. he will give us more decisions in the pattern of Heller, Citizens United, opposition to the contraception mandate In the ACA, and hostility to curbing discrimination against members of the LGBT community. thus, many of us who are concerned for our Republic by appointing a Scalia-like Justice oppose him for many other reasons than whatever his stand on abortion.

On abortion one does not presently have an unfettered right to an abortion. For you even to suggest that such is the case is intellectually dishonest. You do not seriously believe if Roe v. Wade falls that all states will permit abortions or that congress would pass legislation to permit it. There are sound constitutional grounds to permit a woman to seek an abortion, articulated in the original decision and others like Casey. Is having an abortion a serious moral decision. certainly but it a decision that each woman must make hopefully after due consideration. The Catholic Church should continue to make its case for its teaching on whether abortion is a sin. However, in a country as diverse as ours , it should not try to impose its will on those who do not agree with it. On the The Editors of America are a part of a drumbeat for a hierarchy that continues to be hostile to women's rights.

Jim Lein
1 week 5 days ago

As Jesus said, render to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. The church's main focus is morality as well as loving, forgiving and not judging; it is not legality. IMHO.

2 days 13 hours ago

Well when it comes to murder, then legality plays a roll. When it comes to deciding tax and spend policy, I agree. They should stay out.

2 days 13 hours ago

Right. He's great!

2 days 13 hours ago

Right. He's great!

Lisa Weber
1 week 5 days ago

Judge Gorsuch deserves a hearing, but not an endorsement before a hearing is held. I have no strong opinion about him either way.

Roe vs. Wade is based on a right to privacy. Given the current ability of social media sites and government to intrude upon privacy, it would be foolish to give up protections for privacy. Abortion is wrong and the Church is right in teaching that. Abortion should be restricted in some ways - that is a matter for public debate and law. Abortion has been part of the reproductive scene for centuries and probably will be as long as humanity exists. If we could quit talking as though it can be completely eliminated by changing laws, and start talking about how to minimize it, we would be likely to make more progress than we currently do.

Choosing a Supreme Court justice on the basis of a single possible decision is as idiotic as choosing a candidate for public office on the basis of a single issue. I would hope that Judge Gorsuch is given a fair hearing and the vote on whether to confirm him is based on his qualifications - despite the nasty politics that allowed him to be nominated. I also hope all the other justices remain healthy for several more years and that the 2018 election is a bloodbath for the Republicans. Then the current president can be impeached and we can start on the process of rebuilding a reasonable government.

2 days 13 hours ago

The title of this article should have been Justice Gorsuch's pro life views are enough reason TO support him and God willing someday he will cast the vote to overturn Roe v. Wade. I'd also hope for overturning the Obergefell decision, which mandated the destruction of the institution of marriage in the US, but I won't hold my breath on that one.

Derrick Weiller
2 days 6 hours ago

You misunderstand the notion pro life.
Please consult Robert Klahn for enlightenment.
Your friend.

Derrick Weiller
1 week 1 day ago

Well... isn't this all nice and tidy!
But I have a better idea...
Send Gorsuch packing, and re-nominate Garland.
Then... and not until then...
can we talk about "making nice" and embracing responsible Government.

Kenneth Michaels
3 days 3 hours ago

"The Republican response to the Garland nomination was understandable on political grounds and indefensible on constitutional grounds." Your justification here is wrong on so many levels that its incomprehensible. Essentially, you are adopting a position that an abuse of power in our Congress is understandable (and therefore allowable) for political purposes. A might makes right argument. The Senators had an obligation which they failed to fulfill. They should have been barred from office for malfeasance. Instead, what's your solution? Don't oppose them. Don't call them on their malfeasance. Give in and pretend that they did not take the course of inaction that they took. Don't further the culture wars. Excuse me, the Catholic Church has been committing a slow process of suicide engaged in culture wars for most of my adult life. I'm sorry, but I cannot begin to comprehend where your heads are at in this editorial. Who wrote it?

Robert Klahn
2 days 21 hours ago

Understandable and allowable are NOT the same thing.

Constitutionally indefensible is the ruling portion of the comment.

The editorial appears to be written by a false equivalency believer.

2 days 13 hours ago

Elections have consequences. Republicans were under NO obligation to give Garland a hearing. You can certainly argue they should have, but actually it was completely within their constitutional grounds. President Obama could have gone around them and recessed appointed Garland but he didn't. That is the way it works.

2 days 13 hours ago

The public could have then elected Hillary Clinton, who likely would have nominated a much more liberal judge instead, but America elected Donald Trump. That is the way it works.

Robert Klahn
2 days 18 hours ago

I am not anti-abortion, I am pro-life. The pretense that the former is identical to the latter is a fraud, and a great loss to the cause of life.

Approving a typical Republican oriented justice would be abandoning the principles of social justice taught by the Catholic Church. Real pro-life is no where near the opposition to abortion coupled fervently with the belief that the proponent has no responsibility at all for the child that is born of the mother who bears the child.

True pro-life extends beyond birth, to insuring that mother and child have medical care, adequate food and housing, and opportunity to work up to a better life. None of which the right evidences any support for.

Being anti-abortion, with no support for the mother and child, is not extreme, not in today's America, but it should be.

Derrick Weiller
2 days 14 hours ago

I can't remember reading a more compelling statement than yours.
Thank you.

2 days 13 hours ago

Yes, they just believe that the private sector and private charities and encouraging the traditional family unit are better ways to solve these social ills than the government. If you are against Judge Gorsuch, you aren't pro life because you aren't committed to overturning Roe v Wade.

Derrick Weiller
1 day 7 hours ago

Many thanks for this info, Crystal.
Gorsuch's eyelash-fluttering flood of Oh gosh's and Oh golly gee's
cannot wash away such a depraved history.
Tank the guy.

He's a thug masquerading as a boy scout.

Stuart Meisenzahl
2 hours 22 min ago

Derrick and Crystal

What a lawyer advocates on behalf of a client is not at all revealing as to what he personally believes or what he would decide if he were a judge on the same issue. The entire history of English and American law is based upon THE OBLIGATION OF AN ATTORNEY TO SET ASIDE HIS PERSONAL POSITION AND TO VIGOROUSLY ADVOCATE FOR HIS CLIENT'S POSITION. Any lawyer who fails to fulfill this obligation should be disbarred.
Your conclusion that Judge Gorsuch's personal position on any issue can be devined from legal positions he advocated on behalf of his client is nonsense and grossly misunderstands our legal system and the foundations of justice in the United States.

Derrick Weiller
1 hour 55 min ago

Bush's Justice Dept. was up to its slithering dorsal scales in celebration of prisoner abuse and torture when our swell little boy scout, in 2005, took his job at Justice.

He was no merely diligent attorney, then.
Rather, he was a slathering pal-around
quite a'quiver at the chance to slither through Bush's Swamp.

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