Behold — Neil Gorsuch

I defer to Amy Howe of SCOTUSblog: “[Neil] Gorsuch is still a very natural choice for any Republican president to nominate as a replacement for Scalia — someone who would espouse similar principles, stand firm on similar doctrinal commitments, reach similar outcomes, and even fill a similar role as one of the court’s most articulate defenders of conservative judicial theory.” More:

Gorsuch takes a very broad view of religious freedom, and in two separate cases (one of which was the famous Hobby Lobby case) backed religious challenges to the Affordable Care Act. “No one before us disputes that the mandate compels Hobby Lobby and Mardel to underwrite payments for drugs or devices that can have the effect of destroying a fertilized human egg,” he wrote in a concurrence. “No one disputes that the Greens’ religion teaches them that the use of such drugs or devices is gravely wrong.” Under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, Gorsuch argued, the government must give broad deference to religious groups’ explanations of what their beliefs entail, even if those explanations seem inconsistent or unscientific.

To my mind these views are a radical misinterpretation of the obligations of the religious to the body politic. He also wrote a book refuting assisted suicide.

On occasion he has shown deference to defendants:

Like Scalia, he has shown a willingness to occasionally side with defendants on criminal law matters. He sided with a Albuquerque middle schooler who was strip-searched by his school, dissenting while his colleagues ruled that the school police officer and other employees are immune from lawsuits. In one 2012 dissent, he argued against applying the federal law banning felons from owning firearms to a defendant who had no idea he was a felon. And he’s expressed concern with overcriminalization, saying that states and the federal government have enacted too many statutes forbidding too much activity. But on other matters, he has been, like his would-be predecessor, harsher.

 

A few Democratic senators, however, even those in safe seats, are not willing to follow the Dixie Chicks’ line about being not ready to play nice:

Democrats are worried, multiple aides said, about Republicans having an excuse to kill the filibuster on the Supreme Court now, and later use it to ram through an even more conservative nominee if there is another vacancy during Trump’s presidency.

That risk has many Senate Democrats wanting to play nice with the pick at the beginning before formally opposing a nominee after a thorough committee vetting. It’s the precise opposite of how McConnell handled Garland — a tactic that drew widespread criticism but was ultimately effective in galvanizing conservative support for Republicans in the 2016 elections.

For the life of me, will someone explain how this craven behavior makes sense even as politics? The GOP paid no price in 2016 for denying Merrick Garland a hearing. If Chris Coons worries about what mean ol’ Mitch will do regarding the filibuster, has it occurred to him that McConnell is ready to ditch the 60-vote threshold now and in the future (emphasis mine)? I watched Bret Baier’s Wax Museum at 6:30, and Charles Krauthammer and Laura Ingraham were already willing to defenestrate McConnell from his Richard Russell Building office for threatening to kill the filibuster instead of killing it already.

Total war then — the GOP has demanded it since January 2009 if not January 1981. Even if Chuck Schumer and the Dems do what I want, they’re not gonna stop Gorsuch’s holding the door for his fellow justices. Not even Susan Collins will forgo a chance to keep a conservative majority on SCOTUS, and the GOP cares about courts more than even the presidency. Most chillingly, Gorsuch is forty-nine. The odds are strong that he will outlive us all, long enough perhaps to return to a Lochner country.

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